ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - The Rays want to improve in 2010...but not at the expense of jacking up their payroll.
That was the message delivered by the Rays' Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman, in a Tuesday interview before the start of MLB's Winter Meetings.
"In 2010, we don't really have any flexibility," Friedman said with regards to the team's payroll. "Like we've always maintained, we always have some flexibility, but when that happens, you're stealing from a future year."
The Rays entered 2009 with a $63.3 million payroll, 25th out of 30 MLB teams. However, that number represents a nearly 50% increase from the team's 2008 payroll.
When specifically asked what kind of payroll the team would be working with in 2010, Friedman said the team doesn't disclose the numbers so "our 29 competitors don't know what we're working up against."
He also addressed Carl Crawford's $10 million salary and negotiations to keep the superstar in Tampa Bay long-term.
"As much as we want to sign him, we have to be very objective in the sense of what percentage of our payroll can we allocate to any one player and try to field a competitive team with 24 guys around that player," said Friedman. "We'll be as aggressive as we can and he'll be as aggressive as he can, and hopefully there's an overlap, but whether there will, has yet to be seen."
On the team's need to upgrade the bullpen, Friedman once again indicated payroll limitations would force the team to look at some affordable pitchers to fill important roles.
"We don't have the same resources that teams in our division do, so we've got to be creative and inventive and come up with ways to compete with them. And we feel like there are names out there that can really help us and we've got a few months until spring training starts to try and put ourselves in position to have a very competitive bullpen."
Baseball's winter meetings run from Dec. 7-11 in Indianapolis.
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