ST. PETERSBURG -- The price of poker went up for the Rays on Tuesday, when their division foe, the Yankees, signed free-agent slugger Mark Teixeira to an eight-year, $180 million contract.
Though the Rays won the American League East in 2008, the Yankees were the one team in the division against which the Rays had a losing record. And now the Yankees seem to have reloaded for 2008.
In addition to Teixeira, the Yankees have signed free-agent pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett, committing $243.5 million in salary to the pair during the current offseason.
However, the Yankees' formula for building their team is different than the Rays', who depend on scouting and development for creating their Major League roster. So Tuesday's news wasn't unexpected -- or reason to panic.
"I figured [Teixeira] would land in our division someplace," manager Joe Maddon said. "The big names are going to normally land within the AL East. We still have to remain focused on what we are doing regardless of how the other rosters stack up. We need to control what we can and play the game our way."
The Rays' Opening Day payroll in 2008 equaled $43.745 million, far short of the Yankees' Opening Day payroll of $209.08 million. So life goes on for the Rays.
"We plan for and expect the Yankees and Red Sox to have the highest payrolls in the game," team president Matt Silverman said. "Their player expenditures are four to six times ours. This puts into perspective what we were able to accomplish in 2008, and it highlights our challenge in 2009 and beyond."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.