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Rays’ Neander: ‘Nothing off the table’ at Winter Meetings

Leading into the start to the MLB Winter Meetings, Rays general manager Erik Neander said that he will explore all of his options when it comes to the direction he will take in putting together the 2018 roster.

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays general manager Erik Neander hasn’t committed to a full fire sale this offseason, instead he will let market values dictate what players he is willing to trade. One thing is certain, Tampa Bay’s roster for 2018 will have some some new faces and a lower price tag.

“Semantics,” Neander said. “Rebuild, retool. What it is, is at the end of the day, we were sitting around watching the playoffs and we are seeing the quality of the talent that those teams have and are putting out there throughout the playoffs, we’ve got to get better from where we were.”

Neander, along with senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom, met with local media at Tropicana Field on Thursday afternoon to lay out their plans for the MLB Winter Meetings, which begin on Dec. 10 at the Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando. Neander said that every possibility was “on the table” to improve the club whether that is next season or for the future. The Rays finished the 2017 season in third place in the American League East with an 80-82 record.

“At 80 wins, we can find some silver linings in that with respect to where we are at but rebuild, retool, we have to improve,” Neander said.

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Neander is considering multiple blueprints to how to accomplish that, including a total rebuild using a similar plan that was implemented effectively by the Houston Astros, which ultimately led to a World Series title last season.

“If you asked us if winning fifty games a year for three years, four years, five years would guarantee a World Series in the year that came after, we’d take it,” Neander said. “But I don’t think it’s that easy. I think it’s something you need to draft well, develop well. You need to trade well. You need to spend well. You need to trade well and you need luck and you need timing. there’s a lot of different ways, a lot of different blueprints that come into play when it comes to winning a World Series and that one has certainly been successful for them.

“We look at that and we look at a lot of different blueprints that have been done to get to that point.”

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Rays general manager Erik Neander and senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom addressed local media to talk about the team’s plans for the MLB Winter Meetings at Tropicana Field on Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. (J. Scott Butherus/The Scrum Sports)

Of course, in the end, it will come down to what other teams are willing to give up in order to obtain some of the Rays’ more valuable players.

“We are open-minded but we will ultimately do what is best for the team,” Neander said.

No matter what approach they take to building the future rosters, young homegrown talent will play a key role in that. Both from a competitive standpoint and also to help keep payroll costs down.

“A lot of those teams that we see playing deep into October, they all seem to have these core groups and a lot of times they are young groups,” Bloom said. “We feel we have a chance to have that now its on us to figure out how best to augment that as best as possible.”

Follow me on Twitter @JScottButherus

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