The Tampa Bay Rays played The Texas Rangers on October 4, 2011. The Rays ended their AL wild-card streak, losing 4-3.
The Tampa Bay Rays play the Texas Rangers for Game 2 in Texas! Final score: 6-8 (Texas)
The Rays beat the New York Yankees to clinch a playoff spot in the 2011 playoffs!
by Steve Carney
We'll take a look today at what the possible infield could look like for 2013.
Rays infielders under contact for 2013
SS Reid Brignac
IF Elliot Johnson
3B Evan Longoria
2B Ryan Roberts*
SS Sean Rodriguez*
SS Ben Zobrist
*- denotes arbitration eligible
Roberts is a super-two who made over $2 million last year and is likely to get a raise from that, so he is likely to be declined. Rodriguez, the centerpiece of Tampa Bay's trade of Scott Kazmir, has declined in batting average, slugging percentage, home runs, and RBI in each of the last two seasons. He also spent a chunk of the second half of the year in Triple-A, and could end up being declined as well.
2012 Rays infielders eligible for free agency
1B Carlos Pena
IF Jeff Keppinger
Pena took a pay cut of nearlty $3 million in 2012 to come back to Tampa Bay, and had arguably his worst season as a full-time pro, hitting .197 with just 19 homers and 61 RBI. He'll have to take a bigger pay cut than that if he expects to stay in town. Probability that Pena returns: 15%
Keppinger had perhaps his best season as a pro, hitting .325 with 9 homers and 40 RBI in 115 games. He signed a bargain basement $1.5 million deal last offseason, and could be in line for a nice-sized raise, and possibly a multi-year deal. Tampa Bay may be willing to up their offer a little, but Keppinger's lack of power prevents him from getting big numbers in a contract. Probability that Keppinger returns: 40%
The left side of the infield looks set with Longoria and Zobrist, and second base could be occupied by Johnson, Brignac, Roberts, or Rodriguez (if the last two are retained). The big question for Tampa Bay comes over at first base, and there are some interesting names available that the Rays can take a look at.
Casey Kotchman - The Seminole High product had his best year of his pro career in 2011 as a member of the Rays, hitting .306 with 10 homers and 48 runs batted in. However, he struggled with Cleveland in 2012, hitting just .229 but hitting 12 home runs and driving in 55. Rays fans were upset when Kotchman wasn't brought back for 2012, and he can show he's again deserving of a bigger day at the pay window. He's capable of producing Jeff Keppinger-esque numbers at a reduced price.
Kotchman's 2012 salary: $3 million
Could be a Ray if he accepts: $1.5 million
Don Kelly - The Detroit Tigers super-utility man refused an assignment to Triple-A Wednesday after a disappointing 2012. He's not going to wow you with his offensive numbers, but he's another guy who can play almost anywhere (played seven different positions in '12), and could be a great late-inning defensive replacement / pinch-runner if needed.
Kelly's 2012 salary: $900K
Could be a Ray if he accepts: a minor-league deal with a spring training invite