Yes, the Rays are serious about signing first baseman Freddie Freeman, according to major league sources. Yes, they believe they can make it work financially. Will a deal actually be made? Probably not, but just like their on-field strategy, the Rays’ approach to player acquisition is unique.
Going back to the days of Andrew Friedman, their general manager from late October 2005 to October 2014, the Rays have often explored acquisitions of high-end players, regardless of price. Their success rate was not high. Their payrolls remained low. But club officials consider their current squad capable of producing a second consecutive 100-win season. Most of their players are young and approachable. And the team’s weakest position is probably first base, although even there Ji-Man Choi should provide reasonable production.
It’s hard to imagine Freeman choosing to play at Tropicana Field over, say, Dodger Stadium. Ultimately, the Rays’ quest for Freeman may only succeed in driving up the price of the Dodgers, their 2020 World Series opponent, or the Blue Jays or Yankees, a division rival. That alone would make the business interesting. Still, from the Rays’ point of view, it’s not just an exercise in fantasy.
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