No major moves from Rays during MLB Winter Meetings
Wheeling and dealing took place at Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings this week, but predictably, the Tampa Bay Rays have kept some distance from the hot-stove headlines.
The team's biggest development happened Tuesday in St. Petersburg, where an agreement was announced between the franchise and mayor Rick Kriseman to allow the team to search for new stadium sites in Hillsborough County as well as Pinellas County.
But as far as baseball business goes, discussions took place without major news produced. The Rays leave the meetings with many of the same questions. Still, manager Kevin Cash was given a national platform to share his initial vision as Tampa Bay presented its new era to the country.
Here are some takeaways from the Rays at the Winter Meetings ...
1. The largest headlines were created far away from San Diego.
The announcement Tuesday that Kriseman had reached an agreement with the Rays to allow the team to search for new stadium sites in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties was the week's largest development. The memorandum of understanding must be approved by the St. Petersburg City Council -- the vote has been moved from Thursday to Dec. 18 -- but the agreement represents clear progress on what has been a difficult issue in recent years. Principal owner Stuart Sternberg told reporters in San Diego that he won't move the Rays, but if a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area isn't built, he would sell the team and new ownership would relocate the franchise. That's no surprise, but Sternberg's words reveal how urgent the search for a new stadium location in the region should be.
2. It was interesting to hear Wil Myers pop up in trade chatter.
The 2013 American League Rookie of the Year hit a disappointing .222 with just six home runs last season, and apparently, the Rays have received interest about his availability. It's hard to envision the Rays trading Myers this offseason -- dealing Matt Joyce and/or David DeJesus is much more likely -- but the reported curiosity around Myers shows how Tampa Bay is open to listening on almost everyone on its roster. It's not surprising to hear others are interested in Myers. He's just 24 years old, and his early months with the Rays in 2013 showed how promising at the plate he can be. But he has plenty to prove next season.
3. Cash was in the national spotlight for the first time.
Talk about a whirlwind week for the Rays' new manager. He was at his home in Cleveland when Tampa Bay announced him as the franchise's fifth manager. Then Monday, he spoke before reporters in what was his first large public appearance since accepting the job. He came across well, and his enthusiasm for his role should be an asset as a first-time manager. Plenty remains for him to settle in the coming months. He must become acclimated with his roster and build relationships along the way. But what happened this week was a good first step.
4. The Rays were the Rays at the Winter Meetings.
Much like last year in Orlando, where some pundits expected a blockbuster trade to happen involving left-hander David Price, the Rays didn't create too many waves. Headlines were left to the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins and others, but it was little surprise to see Matt Silverman take a deliberate approach in his new position as president of baseball operations. It would have been out of character to see the Rays make a variety of high-profile moves. Of course, discussions happened that could lead to future deals. But the Rays will do their business on their terms.
5. Questions remain.
Certainly, much remains to be seen about what the Rays will do about their ample outfielder depth. Joyce and DeJesus remain possibilities to be moved, and it wouldn't be stunning to see something happen involving Desmond Jennings as well. A backup catcher behind Ryan Hanigan remains an area of need. In addition, bullpen tweaks in the coming weeks wouldn't surprise. Already, this has been a busy offseason for Tampa Bay, but expect more movement to occur before February when pitchers and catchers report.