Sternberg: Rays' payroll likely to go down

Sternberg: Rays' payroll likely to go down

NEW YORK -- Stu Sternberg spoke to reporters prior to Wednesday night's game at Yankee Stadium, and the Rays' principal owner made it clear that he expects a payroll reduction for 2015.

"It's clearly going to be lower," Sternberg said. "This year was an enormous aberration. Look, having said that, if the greatest thing since sliced bread shows up, and it costs us money, anything is possible. We never say no to anything, but the default is clearly going to be lower.

"Our two highest payrolls have been the years we stepped it up, 2009 and 2014, and those are the only two years we haven't played significant September baseball."

The 2009 Opening Day payroll was $63.3 million, up from $43.7 in '08, and this year, the Rays opened the season at $76.8 million, up from $61.9 million.

When asked about this season, Sternberg said they "had higher expectations."

"The nice thing is, there's really nothing to pinpoint," Sternberg said. "We dug just way too deep of a hole early on. So it was disappointing back in April and May and into June, so that feeling has sort of subsided a bit.

"I think playing baseball like we did for a couple of months after that probably adds to it a little bit, because we know with this team, not just what they were capable of, but what they had the ability to do."

As for moving forward, Sternberg said "forward is easy."

"Thankfully, [where the Rays are this season is] an odd place for us to be. A September when games are less meaningful than they have been in the past."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.