Rays sign manager Kevin Cash to multiyear extension

Manager Kevin Cash, who guided the Tampa Bay Rays to their best season since 2013, has been rewarded with a multiyear extension, the team announced Tuesday.

Cash, who led the Rays to a double-digit improvement in wins for the second straight season as they finished third in the AL East with a 90-72 mark, is signed through 2024, with a club option for the 2025 season. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"Kevin has a long list of positives. ... It's been a joy to see him blossom," general manager Erik Neander said Tuesday. "He's very deserving of this extension. We're excited for the years ahead."

The 40-year-old Cash had one year remaining on a five-year, $5 million deal he signed when he replaced Joe Maddon after the 2014 season.

Cash has a 318-330 record in his four seasons with Tampa Bay. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Rays have spent less ($275,404,763) than any major league team over that span, but are 18th in winning percentage (.491).

The Rays improved by 10 wins in 2018, and their 41-25 mark after the All-Star break was third best in the majors despite setting club records with 54 players, 31 pitchers and 23 rookies used this season.

"There's reason to be really excited about the way our team played, the youth and the athleticism, and the way these guys really came together in the second half of the year," Cash said during a conference call.

"I'd like to think, other than the teams that are playing playoff baseball right now, we might have been the most-talked-about team in a positive light at the end of the season. It's an honor to be a part of that."

Using an unorthodox "opener" concept by having relief pitchers begin games, Cash also set a team record with 17 different starting pitchers this season. The pitching staff ranked third in the majors with a 3.50 ERA and broke the major league record with 824 1/3 relief innings pitched.

The Rays lost 12 of 15 to begin the season, digging themselves into a hole few people thought they were capable of escaping after trading Evan Longoria, Steven Souza Jr., Corey Dickerson and Jake Odorizzi and losing starting pitcher Alex Cobb to free agency.

The club chopped more salary in July, trading pitchers Chris Archer, Nathan Eovaldi and Alex Colome, as well as catcher Wilson Ramos and outfielder Denard Span, to make way for younger players.

With first-time All-Star Blake Snell leading the majors with 21 wins and an AL-best 1.89 ERA and Cash overseeing an innovative plan to use openers and "bullpen days" to compensate for a shortage of proven starting pitching, the Rays went 41-25 after the All-Star break, including 19-9 in September.

"This is a year we put a lot on his plate," Neander said. "We made a lot of moves all the way into spring training that left a lot of doubt, potentially within our clubhouse with respect to what we could accomplish this year.

"To see him navigate that, to see him navigate the difficult stretch we had out of the gates, the maturity, his approach, the unwavering support he had from our coaching staff ... was really impactful" and makes Cash the right man for the job "not only today, but for the foreseeable future."

Cash doesn't anticipate the extension creating additional pressure because expectations have remained consistent for an organization that made the playoffs four times in six seasons from 2008 to 2013.

"The expectation is to go out there and find ways to win," Cash said, "and we get to do it with a really energetic group of players."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.