The Rays made a few paper transactions on Tuesday: exercising James Shields and Jose Molina’s club options for the 2013 season.
Retaining Shields’ rights is a no-brainer. Whether Shields pitches for the Rays in 2013 or not, other teams will find his cost certainty attractive in light of the league-wide cash windfall. In fact, Tampa Bay’s bargaining power may increase if similar or worse starting pitchers receive higher paydays on the market. The potential inverse is that teams may rather part with cash than players, so it’s far from a guarantee.
Bringing back Molina is a decision I can get behind. One of the goals this offseason should be landing a better starting catcher, meaning one of Molina and Jose Lobaton would lose their job. Molina is the better of the two, and Lobaton does not appear to be the quality of player you go out of your way to keep in the organization. I wrote in-depth on Molina’s defense versus the Lobaton-Gimenez pair late in the season. Don’t let the passed balls distort things: Molina is the best defensive backstop the Rays have had in a long time.
These moves mean Fernando Rodney and Luke Scott are the final outstanding options. Rodney’s is a slam-dunk exercising, but Scott’s is tougher to figure. The move is a matter of $5 million—the difference between Scott’s salary and his buyout. Expect to hear official announcements on both within the coming day(s).