This article indicates that the Marlins and Rays are far apart on any deal that would include Rocco Baldelli.
At first it was humorous, but now we are tired of all the The Devil Rays talked to Barry Bonds agent stories. It would never happen, but it is Andrew Friedman’s job to explore all possibilities. Would Bonds help the Rays offensively? Yes. Would he put fannies in the seats and cause a buzz? Yes. Will he ever sign with the Rays? No. Unless no other team made him an offer, which at one point a couple of weeks ago seemed like a possibility.
Despite earlier reports that a deal between the Rays and third baseman Akinori Iwamura was imminent, it now appears that the two sides are far apart. It appears that Iwamura is seeking something closer to $5 million per season and the Rays have offered about half that much. In addition, the Rays would like to lock up Iwamura for 5 or 6 six years while the Japanese star desires a 3-year deal. The shorter deal would allow Iwamura to test the free agent market sooner. The Rays have until December 15 to negotiate a deal.
In a related note, manager Joe Maddon spoke openly at the winter meetings about the Rays 2007 opening day roster and lineup. There were two interesting revelations. The first is that Jonny Gomes and Greg Norton will compete for time at DH. Even more interesting is that if the team does indeed sign Akinori Iwamura, Maddon would like to see him at third base, Ben Zobrist at short stop and Jorge Cantu at second. That leaves no position for B. J. Upton. The Rays would not have Upton coming off the bench. Therefore, either the Rays would send Upton back to Durham for even more seasoning, or Maddon expects Upton to be traded.
In the same article, Maddon indicates that he does not expect Shinji Mori to be ready for Spring Training, and he refused to name Seth McClung as the team’s closer.
That point may become moot as the Rays have made an offer to free agent closer Octavio Dotel. Dotel, once one of the dominant relievers in baseball, had Tommy John surgery in 2005 and returned to limited action last season with the Yankees.
Another possibility at closer is Russ Springer. The Rays have apparently also exchanged numbers with the former Astro who does not have experience as a closer, but would be reunited with the new Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey.
All the excitement of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and the labor peace until 2011 that will result, has worn off. The new CBA has effectively taken the small-market teams out of the free agent market. The top free agents will just continue to bounce among the big market teams.
It must have felt like Christmas yesterday for former D-Ray Julio Lugo as all his wishes came true. He was signed by the Red Sox to play shortstop and he will make $9 million annually for 4 years. That was the amount that he sought from the Rays in their last minute attempt to sign him before the trading deadline. The Rays apparently offered considerably less and made the deal to send Lugo to the Dodgers. Several teams were also pursuing Lugo to apparently play other positions.