Rays' Payroll Will Drop for 2011 No Matter What, Owner Says
Sternberg has long been on record as saying the Rays' payroll, about $72 million this year, to $50 million or less next season, and even a run to the World Series title wouldn't alter his course.
"Nothing can change that," Sternberg told reporters. "Unfortunately there's nothing that can happen between now and April that can change that unless Joe Maddon hits the lottery and wants to donate it or I hit the lottery."
The Rays will clear more than $17 million by letting Carlos Pena and Rafael Soriano leave as free agents, but the reduction also makes it clear how difficult it would be for them to keep Carl Crawford.
Not to say the Rays can't be competitive with a lower payroll than they have now -- cornerstone players like David Price and Evan Longoria remain under contract at very reasonable rates -- but the degree of difficulty obviously will rise.
Tampa Bay already has worked at a disadvantage compared to division rivals New York and Boston when it comes to being able to sign a player or make a trade to make up for an injury or performance shortcoming, but the Rays will have much less wiggle room in those circumstances next year.