Logan Morrison has a breakout year in 2017, mashing 38 home runs and hitting .246/.353/.516 for the Tampa Bay Rays. He set career highs in hits, homers, RBIs, walks, and OPS, but the Rays only finished the season 80-82, one game below .500.
Morrison left Tampa in the offseason, signing a one-year, $5.5 million free agent contract with the Minnesota Twins. He wasn’t the only departure, as the Rays traded away Evan Longoria, Corey Dickerson, Steven Souza, and Jake Odorizzi. They were also either unable or unwilling to re-sign free agents like Alex Cobb, Lucas Duda, and Morrison himself.
Well, the team has Carlos Gomez in right field and a couple of decent young pitchers in Chris Archer and Blake Snell. But they can’t be bothered to sign a fifth starter, so those arms will likely burn out as they attempt a four-man rotation. They’ve started the season 8-13 and are unlikely to be in the Wildcard hunt come August and September.
Morrison, who returned to Tropicana Field this week with his new team, didn’t hold back any criticism of his former bosses when reporters asked him about it.
“I see the part of it where players look at it as like, ‘All right, do well so I can get traded, so I can get out of here.’ It’s not like they want to win here, unfortunately,” Morrison said, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “That’s the environment it’s created. … I don’t think it’s a secret.”
The Rays have only made the postseason once in the last six seasons, and struggle to compete in a division that also contains the big spending Yankees and Red Sox (and even the Blue Jays, to some extent).
“The way you have to operate, I guess, here is not a way that’s going to be successful long term. It’s just not going to happen. You’re just not going to win trades over and over and over and over and over again,” Morrision said. “And I think players are starting to realize we’re not going to be taking those (longer-term, arbitration-avoiding, free-agency delaying) deals you want to offer us anymore. So they know. The writing’s on the wall. Now it’s like you have six years of control, but by the time they get to their fifth year, they’re too expensive.”
Tampa Bay has the sixth youngest roster in 2018, with an average age of 27.6 years. They also have the third-lowest payroll, at just $79.1 million. Only the White Sox and Athletics spend less on players, while the most expensive teams in the big leagues (the Red Sox) comes in at $235.1 million.
The Rays are a mess.