Tampa has 43 million in payroll. During the offseason they lost their closer in Soriano, 45 saves, 1.73 era. They lost their best homerun hitter in Pena, and they lost their leadoff man in Crawford. Yet here they are just two wins away from playing in the ALCS. Unbelieveable!
So they don't panic to replace Pena and throw big bucks after a Derek Lee, Dunn, or Laroche. Instead they go out and get Kotchman. The guy is bargain basement after hitting just .217 the year before with a .280 OBP. They get him for $750,000 and the guy hits .306 with a .378 OBP!
They sign Farnsworth for 2.6 mil and bring up farm grown Desmond Jennings, drafted in 2006, 10th round. Then they go out and sign 37 year old Damon for 5 mil, highest paid player on the team, but he brings leadership and expierence.
The starting pitching is all farm grown. Price, Niemann, Shields, Hellickson and Wade. Total cost, just under 8 mil. The rest of the team has other farm grown players like Longoria, Upton and Joyce. The team knows how to draft and they know how to evaluate talent. They also know when not to trade star players if the return isn't good enough.
They simply let the contract run out and collect the comp picks. As players like Longoria or Upton are due big spikes in pay, they will either be traded or let go, or in Longoria's case perhaps signed. Either way, the Rays have built a nice mix of players. This year, with the aid of comp picks, they had 10 draft picks out of the first 60. If some of those picks pan out, they will continue to be competitive for years to come, without spending 100 million plus. It can be done.