Friedman talks with Justice about Rays' 2013 campaign

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Rays did not make any moves or grab many headlines at the General Managers Meetings this week, but executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman expressed confidence the time he spent at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes would help shape Tampa Bay's offseason plans.

How soon will those plans become clear, and the talk turns into action? That remains to be seen.

"It's been a productive few days; I think we have a lot more clarity right now in terms of what might be more real," Friedman said Wednesday night. "We'll regroup over the next few days and try to set our plan in motion as quickly as we can."

Friedman would not say whether the Rays were closer to a trade or a free-agent signing, noting that it "really could go either way," but he acknowledged he would be "surprised" if nothing happened between by the next time the baseball world convenes in central Florida at December's Winter Meetings.

There is, of course, the question of whether Tampa Bay will trade ace left-hander David Price and what kind of return such a trade would provide. Price has said he expects to be traded, while Friedman has declined to directly address the situation, citing the club's policy not to comment on "what-ifs."

The Rays do not have a great deal of work to do otherwise, as Friedman said Tuesday. They need a first baseman, a second catcher to pair with Jose Lobaton, a reliever or two and maybe some pieces for the bench. They are keeping an eye on their own free agents, including first baseman James Loney and catcher Jose Molina.

Friedman has made it clear the Rays are keeping their options open this offseason, and the club is still in the stage of gathering information. But two reports have already suggested potential replacements for Loney and Molina.

CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported Wednesday that the Rays were one of five teams to have checked in on Mets first baseman Ike Davis, a 26-year-old left-handed hitter. Davis struggled in 2013, batting .205/.326/.334 with nine homers and 33 RBIs, but he posted a .252/.336/.461 batting line from 2010-12.

ESPN's Buster Olney posted on Twitter last week that the Rays and Yankees like Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan, who might have become available when Cincinnati signed Brayan Pena to go along with Devin Mesoraco. The 33-year-old Hanigan hit just .198 in 75 games in 2013, but he entered the year with a career .370 on-base percentage and is considered a strong defensive backstop.

Rays react to comments by agent Boras

BOS@TB Gm4: Maddon on being proud of the 2013 Rays

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Though Rays principal owner Stu Sternberg does not see eye to eye with Scott Boras on everything, Sternberg and executive vice president Andrew Friedman were appreciative and understanding upon learning of some praise by the high-profile agent.

Boras in recent comments had criticized the Rays' low attendance while pushing for the team to move. But he commended the Rays' ownership group, led by Sternberg, for putting together a successful team each of the past six years despite working with a payroll that is lower than most other clubs'.

"Certainly the bell's been answered by the organization as far as putting a product on the field that would normally attract fans," Boras said at the General Managers Meetings at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes.

Sternberg dismissed Boras' first point, reaffirming his faith in the Tampa Bay market. But he and Friedman were in agreement with the agent's other remarks.

"I'm glad to hear on this point that our interests are aligned," Friedman said. "Our motivation to increase our revenue is the viability of our sustaining success for the next six years."

In the past, Boras has been critical of the Rays for not spending more on free agents. But he changed his tune slightly Wednesday when speaking to reporters, pointing out that his previous remarks were "probably true of a true grade of ownership that has had the support of the fanbase when winning. They have not."

The Rays drew a Major League-low 1,510,300 fans to Tropicana Field last season, and their pursuit of a new ballpark is an ongoing storyline surrounding the team. They have argued a new stadium would provide more revenue, which would in turn allow them to spend more.

"He wants us, as he should, to be able to pay players more money," Sternberg said. "And if our revenues went up, we would pay players more money.

"But I believe in the market."