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Glasnow headlines group of arb-eligible Rays

@juanctoribio
January 13, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG -- After a busy start to the winter to clear space on the 40-man roster, the Rays approach Friday’s arbitration deadline with just six arb-eligible players, with right-hander Tyler Glasnow being the most notable player. Over the offseason, the Rays parted ways with Chaz Roe, Hunter Renfroe and

ST. PETERSBURG -- After a busy start to the winter to clear space on the 40-man roster, the Rays approach Friday’s arbitration deadline with just six arb-eligible players, with right-hander Tyler Glasnow being the most notable player.

Over the offseason, the Rays parted ways with Chaz Roe, Hunter Renfroe and José Alvarado, all of whom would’ve been eligible for arbitration this offseason. Édgar García, who wasn’t yet eligible for arbitration, was non-tendered in December in order to clear another 40-man roster spot.

The Rays are optimistic they’ll come to terms with every arb-eligible player, but if Tampa Bay is unable to come to salary terms with a player by Friday’s 1 p.m. ET deadline, both sides will exchange figures for the upcoming season followed by a hearing in February because the Rays are a file and trial club.

Let’s take a look at the case of each arb-eligible player:

Tyler Glasnow, RHP
Arbitration eligibility: second year
Non-prorated 2020 salary: $2.05 million
Cot's Contracts 2021 arbitration projection: $4.5 million

Glasnow is the most important arb-eligible player and the Rays are hopeful they can come to terms with the right-hander on Friday. If the season started today, Glasnow would likely be Tampa Bay's Opening Day starter. Glasnow has all the tools and potential to be a Cy Young Award-caliber pitcher and that alone is well worth the extra $2 million the Rays would pay for him if the Cot's Contracts projection ends up being accurate.

Manuel Margot, OF
Arbitration eligibility: second year
Non-prorated 2020 salary: $2.475 million
Cot's Contracts 2021 arbitration projection: $2.75 million

Like Glasnow, this will be Margot’s second time going into arbitration with Tampa Bay. Margot’s first season with the Rays got off to a very slow start, though the outfielder dealt with off-field issues such as the death of his father. In the second half of the season, Margot seemed to get more comfortable with his new team, and that was on full display during the postseason as he hit five home runs and finished with a .895 OPS. Margot will have a big role in 2021.

Joey Wendle, INF
Arbitration eligibility: first year
Non-prorated 2020 salary: $575,600
Cot's Contracts 2021 arbitration projection: $2 million

Though projections are not all likely to end up being accurate, it’s pretty safe to assume that Wendle will get the biggest raise this offseason. Wendle has served as a leader for the Rays over the last three seasons and has become one of the most important players because of his versatility. He’s the perfect Tampa Bay player, and now he’ll get some well-deserved extra cash.

Ryan Yarbrough, LHP
Arbitration eligibility: first year
Non-prorated 2020 salary: $578,500
Cot's Contracts 2021 arbitration projection: $1.75 million

Yarbrough has made it clear that he would like to be a full-time starter, and he might just get that opportunity in 2021. With Blake Snell and Charlie Morton no longer with the Rays, Yarbrough projects to be a key part of Tampa Bay's rotation this season and could enter the season as the No. 2 or No. 3 starter, potentially Glasnow and Michael Wacha. He’ll get a bump in salary, but his focus will be to prove that his success on the mound can translate to full-time starter.

Ji-Man Choi, 1B
Arbitration eligibility: first year
Non-prorated 2020 salary: $850,000
Cot's Contracts 2021 arbitration projection: $1.5 million

Just two offseasons ago, there were a ton of questions about Choi’s ability to play first base on a nightly basis. He has put all of those to rest with his impressive defensive play at the position and he’ll get rewarded for that with a raise this offseason. He will, however, have to be more consistent at the plate in ‘21.

Yonny Chirinos, RHP
Arbitration eligibility: first year
Non-prorated 2020 salary: $576,700
Cot's Contracts 2021 arbitration projection: $1.5 million

Chirinos won’t be on the mound in 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August. But the fact that the Rays chose to keep him around past the non-tender deadline proves just how high they are on the right-hander. With a healthy recovery, Chirinos should be back in the starting rotation in ‘22.

Juan Toribio covers the Dodgers for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.