Rays play for survival in Florida

More than 25,000 Tampa Bay Rays fans gathered at Tropicana Field on Friday afternoon for the team’s home opener which, following the abandonment of the sister cities project with Montreal , in January, tries to ensure its survival in Florida.

In recent years, owner Stuart Sternberg has long suggested that it’s difficult for the Tampa area to maintain a full-time club. However, the Rays will now have to do well at the counters since they have never had such an imposing payroll as in 2022.

“Honestly, it’s a sign of Stu’s commitment to taking the next step,” said general manager Peter Bendix, whose comments were reported by the “Tampa Bay Times”. We have a lot of talent, as much if not more than we’ve ever had since I’ve been here. »

Bendix, named GM last December, has been with the organization for more than 10 years. If the Rays have made the playoffs for the past three seasons, the goal is not only to reach the World Series, as in 2020, but to win it.

A higher payroll

It is a sum of $ 78.2 million which is granted to all Rays players for the new season, according to the 28 elements selected for the opening game, calculated the “Tampa Bay Times”. Outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, with his $12 million, has the highest annual salary on the team.

To offer a fair overview, however, it should be mentioned that Sternberg himself may not have wanted to loosen the purse strings so much. Following the last lockout, the minimum wage was raised from $570,500 to $700,000. The regular formation has also gone from 26 to 28 players for the start of the season. In 2021, the Rays entered the campaign with a payroll of around $67 million.

Nevertheless, on paper, the Rays are no longer among the three or four worst-off teams in major league baseball. For 2022, the Baltimore Orioles, visitors to Tampa by Sunday, bring up the rear, according to the specialized site Spotrac, with $ 41.4 million in player salaries. The Oakland Athletics ($48.2 million), Pittsburgh Pirates ($56.3 million) and Cleveland Guardians ($56.4 million) also come far behind the Rays.

– For the opening game, Tropicana Field had sold out all of its tickets, 25,025 in number. The bleachers were however closed on the upper level.

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