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Volume 26 No. 229
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Rob Manfred Wants Long-Term Future For Rays Resolved Before '22

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred yesterday reiterated it is in the best interest of both the Rays and the league "to get behind a solution that improves the economics" of the franchise, according to Marc Topkin of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. He prefers that the team's long-term future is "resolved sooner" than the current '22-23 timeline, though he "doesn’t expect the Rays to try to break" their lease at Tropicana Field. Manfred also acknowledged the split-season plan with Montreal "contains some 'complicated issues' that require negotiations with the players union." Topkin notes while Rays Owner Stu Sternberg seems "willing to abandon the St. Petersburg and Tampa markets," MLB may "not be ready to do the same." Manfred: "One of the things that baseball has done well over decades is maintain its commitment to its current cities." The Rays' lease at Tropicana Field runs through the '27 season, and Manfred said, "My understanding from Stu is that he does not intend to try to break the lease." While acknowledging the hurdles, Manfred said that the Montreal plan "could still be viable." He added, "We would not have given him permission if we did not think that it was a possibility" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 12/12).

TALKING MONEY: Sternberg said that he expects the Rays' payroll in '20 will "go up from last year’s major-league low" of $62M. However, the TIMES' Topkin notes how much will be a "product of who they want to spend it on." In recently trading CF Tommy Pham to the Padres for RF Hunter Renfroe, the Rays freed up about $5M. But the Rays are "not just going to spend the money because they have it." Sternberg: "We anticipate this year spending more money than we did last year. We anticipated that, we expect that. So now it’ll be more, but it’ll be just spent a different way." He added, "We’re very open to spending. We believe we’re going to spend money. But clearly we’re going to fish in a pond we’re used to fishing in" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 12/12).