The Winter Meetings are underway, and Orlando’s Swan and Dolphin resort is veritably swimming with baseball personages. Among them is Marc Topkin, who covers the Tampa Bay Rays for the St. Petersburg times. Topkin weighed in on a pair of likely-soon-to-be-gone members of the Rays, Jason Bartlett and Carlos Pena.
Topkin on Bartlett: “I think there is a very good chance that Jason Bartlett gets traded by opening day, for two reasons. One is that the Rays are in a cost-cutting mode and through arbitration he’ll make over $5 million next season in his last year before free agency. It’s a logical time to trade him. The other reason is that it is one of the few areas where they can make a trade and it wouldn’t necessarily impact the team that they can put on the field, because Reid Brignac can step in and play shortstop on an everyday basis. I think they’re confident that he showed enough last year that he can do that. The only question in my mind is whether they can get enough in return, because I don’t think they have to trade him. They’re not going to just take a mediocre player back, but if they can find a way to fill some of their significant holes, primarily in the bullpen, I think they’re going to trade Jason Bartlett.”
“The teams I’ve heard mentioned are the Padres, the Pirates and the Orioles. The Orioles look like they’re getting Mark Reynolds, so maybe that changes things for them. Some people still have questions about the Cardinals and Giants, even though they’ve made other moves with [Ryan] Theriot and [Miguel] Tejada. Are they really going to use those guys on an everyday basis at shortstop or are they going to get an everyday shortstop like Jason Bartlett?”
Topkin on Pena: “Carlos Pena is likely gone. I think the Rays have the sense that Pena is going to get a pretty big money offer somewhere else. As we talk today, the Nationals, the Orioles and the Cubs are all considered to have significant interest. Scott Boras talked to him yesterday about it and he’s pretty confident that there is a strong market for him. So Carlos is probably gone and the Rays have to kind of move on. Part of the issue is that they have a limited amount of funds and they have to determine where they spend them and what they’re going to do first.”
“The fans are more concerned about losing Carl Crawford, because he is kind of the marquee name. That‘s the one that bothers people the most. I don’t think there will be a huge reaction if they lose Carlos Pena.”