Rays' response to MLB's rejecting Montreal plan shows team was serious

Rays P and MLBPA rep Tyler Glasnow said the idea of having to go across to another country in the middle of the season is a bit roughGETTY IMAGES

Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg and other team execs did not "veil their frustration with MLB’s decision to kill" their Montreal plan, and their reactions seemed to "show they weren’t lying about their belief in the plan rather than it just being a negotiating ploy as some critics maintained," according to Marc Topkin of the TAMPA BAY TIMES. Per one MLB official, it is "clear what resolution the league wants on the Rays future: A stadium built, with terms relative to the team’s economic issues, in Tampa." Meanwhile, players around the league were "curious" about how the plan would have worked given the "immense logistical challenges of an in-season move, and across the Canadian border at that." Rays P and MLBPA rep Tyler Glasnow said, "Most players were, like, not agreeing. They were like, ‘I really have to move that much?’ ... In terms of free agents and stuff, the idea of having to go across to another country in the middle of the season is a bit rough.” Agent Scott Boras repeatedly said that he "didn’t think players would willingly want to be part of it" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/22).

SPARKING SPECULATION: The TIMES' Topkin in a separate piece wrote Stephen Bronfman, who was heading up the Montreal side of the plan, suggested that other owners "may initially have thought the plan was just a negotiating ploy" for a new Tampa Bay ballpark. But once they realized the Rays were "committed to it and did due diligence," they decided the details were "too complex to be addressed now." Bronfman said, "When I think they started to see that it was really serious, I think they took a step back and they said, ‘Wow, this is a really outward-thinking project. We understand it. But I don’t know if we want to be the first league or guys out there to start something like this.'" MLB officials declining to comment on Thursday "allowed for plenty of speculation and discussion about their potential reasons," such as the idea that MLB "likely doesn’t want to reduce its grip on a major TV market in a growing metro area." More speculation revolved around owners, already "tired of the Rays repeatedly beating them on the field," having not been "keen on a plan that improved their opportunity to be even more competitive." Sternberg will "come face to face" with the owners who "foiled the plan he so badly wanted approved" at an owners meeting scheduled for Feb. 8-10 in Orlando (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/21).

BACK AT SQUARE ONE: MLB Network’s Jayson Stark: “What the Rays have to worry about now is they’re back to square one. What now? What kind of ballpark can they build in Tampa Bay? The park they were talking about was a small, 27,000-seat stadium with no roof because they were only going to play there in the spring. Now, they’d be looking at a bigger stadium with a roof that I would say most likely would not fit on the space they were looking at in Tampa. They’ve got a lot to think about” (“Hot Stove,” MLB Network, 1/21).

TIME TO GO ALL-IN? In Boston, Peter Abraham wrote perhaps this news will "motivate Montreal to go all-in instead of half-in." Geographically, a division with Boston, New York, Toronto, and Montreal would "make great sense." But baseball already "failed in Montreal once." Abraham: "Would the executive council green-light that idea?" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/22).

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