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Rays Off-Season Thread

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#1 drtooth

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 08:46 AM

I decided to start this prior to the playoffs, since it appears there will be a lot happening with this team (and likely very soon). With Stu Sternberg stating that he want to get payroll below $60M, this may be a massive overhaul in the off season. I will go position by position.


It appears that John Jaso and Kelly Shoppach will be the catchers. Jaso proved be a good OBP guy (.372). Shoppach spent most of the year injured and still only batted .196. It raises the issue of whether the FO will pay $3M for Shoppach to be a backup. Dioner Navarro is likely gone after a bad year and then going home when he realized he was not on the ALDS roster. Not much depth in the minors


Carlos Pena (unless he takes a massive pay cut) is likely gone. I'm not sure, given his decline this year, this is a bad thing for Tampa. This could be one of the likely spots for Ben Zobrist to start. Dan Johnson has never shown to be much more than a AAAA player. The only other possibility is for Tampa to bring up Cuban defector Leslie Anderson who flew up the ladder in the Rays system.


Another possible home for Zobrist if the Rays go in another direction at 1B. It's likely going to be Sean Rodriguez or Reid Brignac, depending on what happens at SS. Eliot Johnson (.319/.375/.475 in AAA this year) could also get some playing time here or at SS.


Jason Bartlett is arbitration eligible and made $4M in 2010. Given the owner's desire to cut payroll, it would not be shocking if he gets traded. If Bartlett is traded, Reid Brignac will likely be the SS.


Evan Longoria is now the face of this franchise. Nothing to see here.


Carl Crawford is gone. Desmond Jennings is likely the replacement here, unless BJ Upton gets dealt and Jennings moves to CF. Another possible home for Zobrist or possibly a chance for Justin Ruggiano (though his play has screamed AAAA player).


BJ Upton is arbitration eligible and made $3M. Given his inability to produce up to his talent and dogging it (at times), I will be interested to see if Upton is still here next year. This could be another place for Desmond Jennings, unless the Rays try to get a cheap FA.


Matt Joyce may get the opportunity to be the everyday RF'er here. Zobrist or Ruggiano could be options here. Fernando Perez (if he's healthy) could be the 4th outfielder.


The most stable part of this team. Price, Garza, Shields, Niemann and Davis with Hellickson waiting and ready to go. If TB decides to make room for Hellickson, my guess is that Shields would be the one to go give that his salary is going to go up (2011-$4M with club options in 2012 for $7m and 2013 for $9M).


This is the black hole for the 2011 Rays. Dan Wheeler has a $4M club option (likely won't be picked up) and JP Howell will return after missing all of 2010. That pretty much it. Soriano, Benoit, Balfour and Choate are all FA. It will be interested to see how the FO fills up the pen.


More than likely Willy Aybar, unless the Rays go the cheap FA route.

#2 RingoOSU

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Posted 15 October 2010 - 09:41 AM

I hope next year this thread starts in September.

#3 drtooth

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Posted 28 October 2010 - 12:26 PM

Price wins Player's Choice Award for best pitcher

#4 drtooth

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Posted 02 November 2010 - 09:29 AM

List of Rays FA's

With the final out of the World Series on Monday, the following Rays became free agents:

OF Rocco Baldelli, RHP Grant Balfour, RHP Joaquin Benoit, LHP Randy Choate, OF Carl Crawford, OF Brad Hawpe, OF Gabe Kapler, 1B Carlos Pena, RHP Chad Qualls, RHP Rafael Soriano.

The Rays have five days to negotiate exclusively with them, but aren't expected to sign any during that time. On the sixth day - which would be Sunday - the players are free to negotiate with and sign with any team. Crawford and Soriano are expected to sign elsewhere, the Rays have interest in bringing back some of other relievers.

The Rays have three days to decide on the $4-million option they hold on RHP Dan Wheeler. If they decline, and pay him a $1-million buyout, he would also become a free agent.

#5 drtooth

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Posted 03 November 2010 - 05:14 PM

Per St Pete Times Twitter feed

Tampa declines the options on Dan Wheeler($4M) and Willy Aybar ($2.2M)and add Eliot Johnson to the 40 man roster. Aybar is still arbitration eligible.

#6 drtooth

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Posted 07 November 2010 - 08:42 AM

Roster news

The Rays added RHP Matt Bush, the 2004 No. 1 overall pick by San Diego working to re-start his career as a pitcher, to their 40-man roster.

Otherwise Bush, 24, who was 1-0, 3.29 in 10 games for the Gulf Coast and Florida State League teams, would have become a free agent.

#7 drtooth

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Posted 09 November 2010 - 03:36 PM

Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford each win a Gold Glove. For Longoria it's his 2nd while Crawford earns his first.

#8 drtooth

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Posted 24 November 2010 - 03:51 PM

Arbitration News

The Rays decided to offer arbitration to seven of their nine free agents - Type As Grant Balfour, Carl Crawford and Rafael Soriano, and Type Bs Joaquin Benoit, Randy Choate, Brad Hawpe and Chad Qualls.

They wont offer arbitration to Type A Dan Wheeler and Type B Carlos Pena.

The offers to Crawford and Soriano were easy decisions since both are expected to decline and sign elsewhere, as the Rays will get two drafts picks (one from the signing team, the other between the first and second rounds) in compensation.

The decision with Balfour provides the same situation, but there is also a chance he could accept the offer, which puts him back on the roster at a salary to be determined through arbitration, and surely for more than the $2.05-million he made last season.

The concern of that happening with Wheeler and Pena is the likely reason the Rays chose not to offer to them, as they are likely to have their salaries - Pena made $10.125-million last season and Wheeler $3.5-million - reduced on the open market but could have gotten raises through arbitration. (Plus, the Rays already declined a $4-million option on Wheeler.)

Since Type B free agents net only a compensation pick (and nothing from the signing team) the situation is different, with teams sometimes working out an agreement with players to not accept arbitration.

That would seem to likely be the case with Hawpe, who had a $7.5-million salary with Colorado before being released and signed by the Rays, and with Qualls, who made $4.185-million last season when he was acquired from Arizona. That may not be as much of the case with with Choate, however, who was something of a bargain last season at $700,000 and is expected to go into the market.

With Benoit, it was procedural since he already signed with the Tigers.

The players offered arbitration have until Nov. 30 to accept. If all seven end up declining and sign elsewhere, the Rays would have 10 extra picks in the 2011 draft

#9 drtooth

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 12:18 PM

According to Marc Topkin's Twitter feed, it appears that Grant Balfour may the Ray's only arbitration-offered FA to accept.

#10 drtooth

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Posted 30 November 2010 - 07:49 PM

Rays announce that none of their arb-offered FA accepted arbitration, including Balfour

#11 drtooth

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 02:03 PM

From Marc Topkin's Twitter feed

Friedman at pre-WM press conference: J.P. Howell (shoulder) won't be ready to start season, ETA uncertain

#12 drtooth

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Posted 02 December 2010 - 01:19 PM

Rays options at the midnight tender deadline

The Rays have until midnight tonight to tender contracts to their nine arbitration eligible players, with only four of any real question.

They are going to tender SS Jason Bartlett, even though he is likely to make more than $5-million next season and they are cutting payroll. There are several reasons for that, starting with the decent chance Bartlett will be their starting shortstop next season, and a key part of their lineup. But even if they plan to turn the job over to Reid Brignac, there has been enough trade interest in Bartlett this off-season - with the Orioles, Padres and Pirates mentioned most prominently at this point - that they have to hang on to him to now because of what he could bring them in deal.

The decisions to tender are obvious on RHP Matt Garza and CF B.J. Upton, and seemingly so, given his versatility to start or relieve, with RHP Andy Sonnanstine.

And they are not going to tender C Dioner Navarro, who had a miserable season, spent more than two months in the minors, then walked out on the team when left off the division series roster, refusing to stick around if needed in case of an injury.

So that leaves these four, and the question of whether to tender contracts which makes them signed players and, as most do through arbitration, likely to get raises. And even in the rare case of a player whose pay may be cut - such as J.P. Howell, who missed the whole season with injury - it can only go down 20 percent.

Between now and midnight, the Rays are likely to explore, and seek, deals to sign at least a couple to contracts for less than they would make in arbitration, with the leverage of cutting them loose if they don't take the deals. The player has to decide whether to take the security of being signed to a big-league deal or take advantage of the opportunity to be a free agent and seek more money elsewhere with the risk of ending up with a minor-league contract.

Here's a look:

Lance Cormier: The Rays need relievers, since Andy Sonnanstine is technically the only returnee at the moment, so it makes sense to keep Cormier. But Cormier made $1.2-million last season, going 4-3, 3.92 in 60 games with more hits allowed (68) than innings pitched (62) and more walks (34) than strikeouts (30), and is line to get between $1.5- and $2-million. So the decision could come down to whether the Rays think he's worth that much money, or if they can do better spending it on someone else.

Willy Aybar: Without knowing if free-agent 1B Carlos Pena will be back, and who could be available to replace him and also to fill the DH spot, it's hard for the Rays to know today how much use they'll have for Aybar, who can play first and third but not very well, and hit only .220 with six homers and a .656 OPS in 2010. Given that they already declined a $2.2-million option (and paid Aybar a $275,000 buyout), they obviously don't feel he should get much of a raise from the $1.35-million he made this season.

Dan Johnson: Like with Aybar, it's difficult for the Rays to know today how much they might need Johnson, whether to start at first, to be the primary DH, to be a utility player at first, third and the outfield. He has only a $500,000 salary last season, but is in line for a raise as a first-year abitration eligible. They could also non-tender him and try to re-sign him to a minor-league deal.

J.P. Howell: Howell certainly seems to be in the Rays plans, but with the news that the lefty reliever won't be ready to start the 2011 season after missing all of 2010 with a shoulder injury that required surgery, it's logical they'd consider way to reduce their commitment. He made $1.8-million last season, and since the rules don't allow for more than a 20 percent pay cut - that would be $1.44-million - they might seek to negotiate something lower.

#13 drtooth

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Posted 02 December 2010 - 04:34 PM

Minor signings

The Rays re-signed three players to minor-league contracts who were members of their Triple-A Durham team last year, INF J.J. Furmaniak, RHP Richard De Los Santos and LHP R.J. Swindle, and confirmed the signings of two free agents, INF Russ Canzler and RHP Cory Wade. All five will be invited to major-league spring training.

#14 drtooth

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Posted 02 December 2010 - 07:04 PM

Lance Cormier has been non-tendered

#15 drtooth

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Posted 03 December 2010 - 08:00 AM

Tampa non-tenders JP Howell, Dioner Navarro, Willy Aybar and Lance Cormier. Tampa tenders Matt Garza, BJ Upton, Jason Bartlett, Andy Sonnanstine and Dan Johnson.

#16 drtooth

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Posted 06 December 2010 - 08:02 PM

Rays reach agreement with 1B/OF Dan Johnson, avoiding arbitration.

#17 drtooth

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Posted 07 December 2010 - 06:31 PM

Looks like the big rumor from the Rays camp is possibly Jason Bartlett going to Baltimore for Nolan Reimold and possibly a reliever.

Edit: Looks like Jayson Starks is saying the deal is dead. Where have I heard that before??

Edited by drtooth, 07 December 2010 - 06:36 PM.

#18 drtooth

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 12:16 PM

After signing Carlos Pena, the Cubs have expressed interest in trading for Matt Garza according mlbtraderumors.com

#19 drtooth

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Posted 08 December 2010 - 09:13 PM

Bartlett traded to SD

SS Jason Bartlett said he been traded to the Padres, though the Rays said reports of the deal are premature and there will be no official announcement tonight.

The initial word was that the Rays were getting back relievers Cesar Ramos and Adam Russell, and it's possible the deal could still come down that way.

Ramos, 26, is a lefty was a first-round pick in 2005 who has pitched in 19 big-league games, going 0-2 with a 6.26 ERA.

Russell, 27, is a 6-foot-8, 255-poud righthander acquired by the Pads from the White Sox who is 7-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 49 big-league games over three seasons. He throws hard, has been used in long relief in the big leagues.

#20 drtooth

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Posted 09 December 2010 - 04:35 PM

Bartlett update and Rule V news

The winter meetings are officially ending, and Jason Bartlett is still technically a Ray.

There was no update and no official word from the Rays on the previously reported trade of Jason Bartlett to the Padres for relievers Cesar Ramos and Adam Russell.

The Rays took a lefty pitcher from Boston -- the "revenge" for Carl Crawford's signing - Cesar Cabral, and lost RHP Aneury Rodriguez to Houston. The Rule 5 players have to be kept in the majors all season or offered back, and the Rays expect to get A-Rod back.

They also lost three players in the minor-league portion of the draft: Heath Rollins, who made a run at making the team last spring as a reliever but had a disappointing season, to Kansas City; LHP Justin Dowdy, to the Giants, 2B Roan Salas to the Blue Jays.

#21 drtooth

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 09:09 AM

Hold up on the Bartlett deal

The holdup in the proposed trade of Jason Bartlett to the Padres reportedly has to do with the physical condition of one of the two relievers that were headed to Tampa Bay, Adam Russell or Cesar Ramos, and could at least alter the deal, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.

According to the report: "A source said Tampa Bay wanted to get a second opinion on one of the pitchers after conducting an initial physical. The problem is not believed to be serious, but there are no guarantees the deal will go through as originally agreed upon."

The Rays have had no comment since word of the proposed deal got out on Wednesday night and team spokesman Rick Vaughn said the reports were "premature.''

#22 drtooth

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 01:01 PM

Rangers inquire about Garza and Shields

#23 Snodgrass'Muff

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 01:08 PM

Rangers inquire about Garza and Shields

Garza might be a nice fit there. He has good enough stuff to dominate on any given night, he just lacks consistency. Pitching in a pitchers park might help him out a bit and while he's no Cliff Lee, replacing Lee with him in the rotation would at least keep the Rangers as the easy favorites in their division.

#24 SoxinPA

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Posted 12 December 2010 - 09:21 PM

The Rays' team spokesman is Rick Vaughn? That explains Maddon's glasses, just needs to add the little skull and crossbones onto the sides

#25 drtooth

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 06:00 PM

JP Howell signs a 1 year deal with the Rays

#26 JMDurron

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Posted 16 December 2010 - 01:14 PM

Garza might be a nice fit there. He has good enough stuff to dominate on any given night, he just lacks consistency. Pitching in a pitchers park might help him out a bit and while he's no Cliff Lee, replacing Lee with him in the rotation would at least keep the Rangers as the easy favorites in their division.

The Texas Rangers play in a pitchers' park? 2010 Park Factors by b-ref - 104 for hitters, 103 for pitchers. Over 100 favors hitters. Multi-year numbers are 105/104. ESPN's Park Factors have the Ballpark in Arlington as the 6th best hitters park in 2010, and 7th, 1st, 18th, 5th, 7th, 2nd, 6th, and 6th going back from 2009-2002. It is a serious hitter's park, and aside from the bizarre 2007 outlier, it always has been a hitter's park. I believe that the wind patterns/ballpark dimensions there also favor LHH pull hitters, so that would be likely to hurt a RHP like Garza more than his LHP equivalent, whoever that might be.

#27 drtooth

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Posted 16 December 2010 - 04:20 PM

Rays sign Joel Peralta

The Rays have made the first addition to their depleted bullpen, agreeing to terms with RHP Joel Peralta.

The one-year deal, for about $900K, was first reported this morning by ESPN.com's Buster Olney.

An official announcement could come later today.

Peralta, 34, was non-tendered by the Nationals despite a decent 2010 season. He would add some experience to a Rays bullpen depleted by free agency, as Joaquin Benoit and Randy Choate have signed elsewhere and Rafael Soriano, Dan Wheeler (Red Sox?) and Grant Balfour are expected to follow.

Here'a a quick summary from mlbtraderumors.com: Peralta, 35 in March, posted a 2.02 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 49 innings of work for the Nationals in 2010. A late bloomer who didn't reach the major leagues until his age 29 season, Peralta has a 4.22 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 260 career relief appearances. He has always generated lots of fly balls and this year ranked fifth in fly ball rate (55.6%) among big league relievers with at least 40 innings pitched

#28 drtooth

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Posted 17 December 2010 - 08:31 PM

Bartlett deal finally done

The Rays on Friday finally finalized the trade to send SS Jason Bartlett to Padres, though in a different form.

The Rays are giving up Bartlett and a player to be named, and getting four back - the two relievers previously reported, RHP Adam Russell and LHP Cesar Ramos, plus RHP Brandon Gomes and INF Cole Figueroa.

The Rays are holding a 6:45 conference call to discuss the deal.

Russell and Ramos immediately become candidates to land spots in the Rays' free-agent depleted bullpen with Russell, a big, hard-thrower who approaches 100 mph, more likely to have an immediate impact, potentially in late innings.
Figueroa, 23, is middle infielder who was targeted to be the started second baseman at Double-A for the Padres. He is a Tallahassee native who played at the University of Florida and is the son of former big-leaguer Bien Figueroa. He was a 6th-round pick in the 2008 draft.

Gomes, 26, had an impressive season in relief for Double-A San Antonio, going 7-1, 1.87 in 51 games. He was a 17th-round pick in the 2007 draft.

#29 drtooth

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 03:00 PM

Rays sign old friend OF Chris Carter to a minor league deal.

#30 drtooth

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Posted 08 January 2011 - 07:50 AM

Scouting report on the players acquired in Garza deal

Chris Archer, RHP

Archer, 22, is likely a key to this trade, considering he's the Cubs' top overall prospect, according to Baseball America. The right-hander went 15-3 with a 2.34 ERA and 149 strikeouts in 142 1/3 innings between Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee last season, and he earned the Cubs' minor-league pitcher of the year honors. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Raleigh, N.C., native was drafted by the Indians in the fifth round in 2006. The Cubs acquired him when they sent leftfielder Mark DeRosa to Cleveland in 2008. Archer had the best fastball and slider in the Cubs' system.

Hak-Ju Lee, SS/2B

The Korean is a shortstop prospect who hit .282 with 40 RBIs and 32 stolen bases for Class A Peoria last season. Lee, 20, would probably start with the Rays in A or Double A. He was rated the Cubs' fourth-best prospect, according to Baseball America.

Robinson Chirinos, C

Chirinos, 26, is the Cubs' top catching prospect. He is coming off a career year in which he had a combined .326 batting average/.416 on-base percentage/.583 slugging percentage between Double A and Triple A, with 18 homers and 74 RBIs (and just 43 strikeouts). He was added to the 40-man roster in Chicago and was reportedly expected to compete for the Cubs' backup catcher job.

Brandon Guyer, OF

Guyer, 24, is an athletic outfield prospect who played all three spots for Double-A Tennessee last season while committing just three errors in 102 games. He hit .344, with 13 homers and 58 RBIs, and had 30 steals. According to Baseball America, he is the Cubs' 10th-best prospect and the best defensive outfielder in their system.

Sam Fuld, OF

Fuld, 29, a strong defensive outfielder, has played in 98 big-league games spanning three seasons with the Cubs. He has hit .252 with one homer and five RBIs. Fuld hit .272 with four homers and 27 RBIs for Triple-A Iowa last season while playing centerfield.

#31 drtooth

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 12:04 PM

Kyle Farnsworth signs a 1 year, $3M deal with Tampa

#32 drtooth

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 03:28 PM

BJ Upton signs a one year, $4.825M deal and avoids arbitration.

Edited by drtooth, 17 January 2011 - 03:56 PM.

#33 drtooth

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 01:57 PM

Rays sign Andy Sonnanstine to a 1-year, $912,500 contract, avoiding arbitration.

#34 drtooth

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 10:57 AM

According to several reports, the Rays are close to a deal for Johnny Damon.

#35 bandito0

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 11:21 AM

Bullpen Gospels author Dirk Hayhurst signs a minor league deal with Tampa. He sat out all of 2010 following shoulder surgery. No other contract details released.

The Garfoose Twitter Page

#36 drtooth

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Posted 21 January 2011 - 09:58 PM

SI--Rays sign Ramirez and Damon

The Rays have agreed to terms with both Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon, according to SI.com. The deals are pending physicals.

Tampa Bay had hoped to acquire a hitter or two on the free agent market, and if this becomes official, it'd be two pretty big names.

According to SI.com, Damon will make 5.25 million and could add $750,000 more in attendance bonuses. Ramirez will receive $2 million, according to the report.

The Rays, which had been interested in both veterans this offseason, didn't have an immediate comment.

Damon, 37, reached via cell phone in the Dominican Republic, said he knew his agent, Scott Boras, and the Rays were working on something. And while he couldn't confirm the terms, he is excited to return to his "home state." He played in high school at Dr. Phillips in Orlando and was a Florida commitment before starting his professional career, and his family lives in Windermere.

"I am very excited to join an organization that has a very good chance to keep winning," Damon wrote in a text message. "And I love the opportunity to win in my home state, the team I will root for when my playing days are over. My family and I have been hoping for this for a while."

Boras, who represents both Ramirez and Damon, could not be immediately reached for comment.

In Damon, the Rays would land a potential leadoff hitter, someone who can play in left or rightfield. In landing Ramirez, 38, they could get a power bat at DH in the middle of the order, who could potentially offer protection for Evan Longoria.

Ramirez's numbers have dropped in recent seasons, including hitting just nine homers and 42 RBI in 90 games last season split between the Dodgers and White Sox. But the future Hall of Famer has been arguably one of the best hitters of his generation, and will provide a threat.

#37 drtooth

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 05:27 AM

Rocco Baldelli will announce his retirement today and join the Rays front office as a special advisor.

#38 drtooth

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 08:19 PM

Rays sign Casey Kotchman to a minor league deal.

#39 drtooth

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Posted 02 February 2011 - 04:41 PM

Rays sign INF Felipe Lopez to a minor league deal

#40 drtooth

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Posted 04 February 2011 - 09:12 PM

Rays sign RP Juan Cruz to a minor-league deal.

#41 drtooth

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 02:37 PM

Rays DFA Leslie Anderson and Justin Ruggiano to make room for Damon and Ramirez on the 40 man roster

#42 drtooth

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Posted 11 February 2011 - 07:34 PM

Both Ruggiano and Anderson have cleared waivers and have been assigned to AAA Durham.