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Rays

Rays payroll coming into focus

Published:   |   Updated: January 12, 2014 at 08:52 AM

ST. PETERSBURG ­— The 2014 payroll should become clearer this week when the Rays agree to terms with most or all of their seven arbitration-eligible players.

Tuesday is the deadline for players to file for arbitration, and Friday is the deadline for figures to be exchanged. With rare exception, the Rays sign their arbitration-eligible players during this period.

LHP David Price, OF Matt Joyce, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, INF Sean Rodriguez, LHP Jake McGee, C Jose Lobaton and LHP Cesar Ramos are arbitration-eligible.

According to Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors, Price is estimated to receive $13.1 million, Joyce $3.7 million, Hellickson $3.3 million, Rodriguez $1.3 million, McGee $1.2 million, Lobaton $1 million and Ramos $700,000.

With three catchers on the major-league roster, it is possible the Rays move Lobaton this week and let Lobaton’s new team work out his 2014 contract.

If those estimates are close, the payroll will increase by $24 million (with Lobaton’s salary). Add that to the nearly $40 million the Rays already have committed, and the payroll will be at $64 million. The players who have yet to reach their arbitration years normally receive their contracts during spring training.

The payroll will exceed $70 million when that happens, providing of course, Price is still a member of the team.

The franchise-record payroll is $72.8 million in 2010. Andrew Friedman, the Rays’ executive vice president of baseball operations, recently said the team can exceed that number and will do it because he believes this team has a chance to be “great.”

The increased revenue from MLB’s new TV contracts with ESPN, Fox and TBS means an addition of close to $25 million for each team. That bump can allow the Rays to keep Price for at least one more season.

“MLB’s new television contract has been anticipated for years and has already factored into financial decisions across the league. In most recent years, our payroll reflected what we can afford and a good deal more,” team president Matt Silverman said. “The same is true and then some as we head towards spring training. It is an uncomfortable position, but one we have taken because of the opportunities in front of us.”

Here come the prospects

The Rays’ annual Winter Development Program begins Monday and runs through Thursday at Tropicana Field.

Among the 27 prospects invited are INF Vince Belnome, OF Josh Sale and four of the Rays’ top-five picks from the 2013 draft — C Nick Ciuffo, INF Riley Unroe, OF Thomas Milone and INF Keon Wong.

Belnome hit .300 with a .408 on-base percentage last season for Triple-A Durham and was named to the International League’s postseason all-star team.

Sale is serving a suspension for conduct detrimental to the organization. The suspension has not been lifted, but according to the team, he is doing everything asked and could be reinstated during spring training.

Sweet Swingin’ camp

Joyce and North Brandon Youth Baseball will hold the fourth annual Matt Joyce Sweet Swingin’ Baseball Camp on Jan. 26 at the North Brandon Baseball Complex.

The camp is for children ages 5 through 12. Registration is $102.50.

Campers receive coaching from Joyce and other pro baseball players and coaches, and a Matt Joyce Sweet Swingin’ Baseball Camp T-shirt.

All proceeds benefit the North Brandon Youth Baseball organization for continued park/field improvements and the purchase of new equipment. Campers can register at nbyb.biz. The event is limited to the first 100 paid participants.

Moving up

The Rays announced three promotions last week.

Chris Westmoreland moves from equipment and home clubhouse manager to director of team travel and clubhouse operations. Jose Fernandez was promoted from clubhouse staff to home clubhouse manager. Ryan Denlinger was promoted from clubhouse staff to assistant home clubhouse manager.

rmooney@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7227

Twitter: @RMooneyTBO

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