ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said Friday he will not cut payroll this season if the team continues to stay in the postseason hunt.
"We clearly had a need, we felt, to shore up different parts of the team [during the offseason]," Sternberg said in a teleconference call Friday. "We did that. We still feel great about the team. And as long as we're in the hunt, I don't see us, because of financial reasons, pulling back from that."
Sternberg spoke to address the Rays being named the most affordable sports franchise in the nation by ESPN, out of 122 organizations in MLB, the NBA, the NFL and the NHL.
Following its run to the World Series last year, Tampa Bay bumped payroll up to $60 million this offseason, enabling the club to sign free agent Pat Burrell, among other changes.
"We made a commitment to do certain things this year to try to put the absolute best product we can on the field, and then some," Sternberg said. "Last year was so special, we wanted to give each of the guys in the clubhouse and the fans and the organization the chance to succeed again."
Despite the recent recognition for its affordability, attendance figures have remained relatively low this season and have been somewhat disappointing to the Rays front office, which continues to speculate about a move out of St. Petersburg or into a new stadium.
Receiving ESPN's acknowledgment, however, was not lost on Sternberg, who believes it can only help spread the word that coming to Tropicana Field is one of baseball's best values.
"We couldn't ask for any more," Sternberg said. "To be recognized nationally when, quite frankly, the history of this franchise, even recently, has been somewhat of a laughing stock. To be recognized by ESPN as No. 1 for all the teams is an incredible accomplishment and a statement on the organization for what we've done."
Zach Schonbrun is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.