Shields, Molina, Rodney have options picked up
Rays part ways with veteran Scott by giving him $1 million buyout
ST. PETERSBURG -- James Shields, Jose Molina and Fernando Rodney are in and Luke Scott is out -- at least for the time being.
The Rays announced Wednesday afternoon they had exercised 2013 options for Shields, Molina and Rodney, while they opted to decline Scott's $6 million option and instead will pay him a $1 million buyout.
Shields will make $10.25 million, Molina will earn $1.8 million and Rodney will be paid $2.5 million next season.
Scott signed with the Rays prior to the 2012 season while coming off right shoulder surgery. Though he had not fully recovered, the belief was the part he could play on the field, along with his clubhouse presence, would be enough to make him a nice addition.
Unfortunately, that's not what happened. Scott did not have the kind of season hoped for by the Rays and their fans.
After two trips to the disabled list that caused Scott to miss 45 games, he finished with a .229 batting average, 14 homers and 55 RBIs.
"As far as the news on me is concerned, I had my suspicions about what would happen," Scott said. "I know the business side of the game and everything. A good thing is I talked with [Rays executive vice president] Andrew [Friedman], [and] he was very positive. We had a good talk and we're still not ruling out the possibility of next year. We'll circle back around and see what might happen.
"I definitely want to come back. It was a great place for me, a great fit. Being close to home was awesome. We'll see what the good Lord has planned for next year for me."
Friedman spoke of flexibility when talking about the decision regarding Scott.
"It was just one of those things where we have enough decisions to make on the position player side that each decision we make has a domino effect, and we just didn't want to make any decisions right now that would push us in one certain direction, and [we] wanted to have a lot of flexibility in our decision-making process," Friedman said. "We have a lot of guys we want to potentially add. We felt like that gave us a lot of flexibility."
Friedman said he had a good conversation with Scott and did not rule out him returning next year.
"Both sides will keep the door open as the winter unfolds," Friedman said.
Rodney might be the best value in the Major Leagues based on what he did in 2012. The closer topped Dennis Eckersley's record 0.61 ERA by coming in at 0.60 after allowing just five earned runs in 74 2/3 innings, notching 48 saves along the way.
Molina will be back despite a lackluster season offensively, but according to the stats, many of the Rays' hurlers did better when he caught.
"We felt like he adds a lot to our pitching staff and his knowledge of the game and the pitch calling, the controlling of the run game," Friedman said. "We were extremely successful on the run prevention side and we felt like Jose Molina was a big part of that success."
Already there is much speculation about the Rays not being able to afford a scenario where Shields and David Price are both with the team in 2013. However, Friedman said that such a possibility is indeed possible, though he stressed that the management side will explore all possibilities to improve the team.
Meanwhile, Shields is thrilled about the prospect of returning in 2013.
"I'm really excited," Shields said. "We obviously had the best pitching staff in the Major Leagues as far as I'm concerned, and I want to continue that. We have such a great team and pitching staff.
"[Jim] Hickey, I believe, is one of the best pitching coaches -- if not the best pitching coach -- in the big leagues. It's fun to be a part of these guys, it's been a blast. It will be fun to continue that."
Based on how close Tampa Bay came to reaching the playoffs for the fourth time in the past five years, Shields said there is a hunger among the Rays to get back to the postseason.
"There's no doubt we had unfinished business," Shields said. "Obviously the injuries killed us this year. If we can minimize that and get a bat or two in the lineup, I think we're going to be good. I think we're going to be real good.
"Obviously our pitching staff is as solid as we can get. If we can bring some of the guys back from last year and keep them healthy, we're going to be a team to be reckoned with."
Shields has long been considered the leader of the Rays' staff, which is just another component of his value to the team.
"I don't really consider it my staff, but I definitely try to be a leader to those guys," Shields said. "The thing about it is, all the guys on our starting staff, we jell so well together [that] you don't have to be a leader. You just have to show stuff by example and work hard and everyone kind of follows. As far as that goes, it's not necessarily being a leader, it's just being the guy who's been here the longest, really."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.