ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The biggest benefit of the Rays signing baseball operations president Erik Neander and manager Kevin Cash to long-term contract extensions is the most obvious: two of the game’s best at their jobs will stay with the team.
As much as the small-market Rays churn their roster, often acquiring players when they are young and cheap and then moving them as their salaries escalate, it is significant that they valued what they had in the two leaders and agreed to pay what it costs to keep them to maintain continuity.
And that, several veteran players said, should send a strong message that can pay off now and in the future.
“Anytime you have a place where people want to be, I think that should speak for itself,” reliever Pete Fairbanks said.
That starts with what has been working. The Rays, despite their low payroll, have made the playoffs five straight seasons.
“I think it’s smart to keep them there, because when you have a head coach and a (baseball operations president) that are going to be there for a while, you kind of get a sense of security throughout your players,” second baseman Brandon Lowe said. “Guys like playing for Cash, guys like working with and working for Erik, and it kind of makes them want to stay as well. So I feel it’s a great thing all around.”
And going forward, it makes Tampa Bay more attractive to other players.
“100% — I think it’s huge,” said pitcher Zach Eflin, who signed as a three-year deal before last season, “Honestly, with all the players that have come in and out of Tampa, all I’ve ever heard is how great Cash and Neander are. And that speaks to the people that they are, and their willingness to want to win more than anything.
“So with them being locked down for a while, I think it’s going to be a lot easier for guys to come here. As word spreads around how good of an organization this is and how fun it is to play here, I think that’s only going to attract more free agents.”
Without knowing how much or how long the deals are for — the only reported framing was beyond the planned 2028 move into a new stadium — there’s no point in trying to assess who got the better end.
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