Want to know why you should always feel bad for the Tampa Bay Rays?
They just signed first baseman James Loney and it broke the bank.
Loney is a fine player who got his career back on track last season with the Rays. He batted .299/.348/.430 and played spectacular defense. The Rays were more than happy to bring him back, but it was on the day that they announced his signing that they reminded us just how rough they’ve got it.
Executive Vice President Andrew Friedman addressed the team’s payroll situation at the press conference (quotes courtesy of Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times):
There’s also a price to pay with that, as Friedman acknowledged their payroll is projected to be higher than the franchise-record of $72.8 million in 2010.
‘I think it’s an unaffordable figure for our franchise,’ Friedman said. ‘But I think it’s something that Stu has been very steadfast and doing everything he can and putting our best foot forward to win as many games as we possibly can as we continue to build a foundation and fan base in this area…But it’s certainly not a sustainable number in terms of where we are revenue-wise, but we felt like we had a really good chance to be great next year, that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.’”
A franchise record of $72.8 million? That goes to explain, among other things, why the team is willing to let Fernando Rodney get overpaid by somebody else and why they are proactively exploring trades for ace starter David Price.
The Rays were dead last in all of baseball in attendance in 2013 (18,645 average), behind even the Miami Marlins. Just make sure you’re good and darn impressed with the Rays when they are good again this season.