Willy Aybar’s new deal is now official. He will make $975K this season (we projected $1.0 million) and $1.35 million next season. There is a team option for 2011 at $2.2 million with a $275K buyout. Aybar, a super-two player will still have one year of arbitration remaining in 2012 if the Rays pick up the option.

As Marc Topkin notes, it is unusual for a team to give a bench player a multi-year deal. Andrew Friedman said that “there’s always a scenario where he could earn more at-bats some point down the road.”

We have to wonder if the Rays envision a scenario in which Aybar is the starting second baseman in 2010. If they do, it is likely that the Rays would buy out Akinori Iwamura’s 2010 option ($4.25m*) for $250K. It is not a stretch to think Aybar can be at least as productive as Aki, at a third of the price.

With Aybar under team control for the next four seasons, Reid Brignac still developing, Adam Kennedy lurking, and the fact that the Rays have never attempted to market the team in Japan, Iwamura’s 2010 option sure looks expendable at this point.

* 2010 option likely will be bumped to $5.25m based on number of plate appearances in the first three years of deal.

Aybar deal done, could be worth $4.525 M [The Heater]


  • Last year it was 9=8. This year it is ‘09 > ‘08…Corny? Yes. But one thing we know very well is that corny tends to be catchy. [St. Pete Times]
  • Carl Crawford reported to camp and says he feels better than he has felt in a long time. He says his wrist is “feeling good” and he spent the off-season strengthening his hamstrings to keep from having any more problems on the FieldTurf at Tropcicana Field. [MLB]
  • Some think the Royals can be the “Next Rays,” but UmpBump wonders if they are even as good as the Durham Bulls. [UmpBump]
  • Adam Kennedy sounds like somebody that is none-to-happy about the way the Cardinals handled his release. Those are the best types of veterans to bring aboard on a minor league deal. The ones with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove. [St. Pete Times]
  • Fanhouse has a preseason edition of the MLB Power Rankings up. The Rays start the season at #1. [Fanhouse]

Why not, right? The Rays added Pat Burrell and they got rid of Edwin Jackson (picking up Matt Joyce in the process). Aside from bolstering their already stout and well-balanced offense, Jackson’s departure clears the way for David Price to dominate this division for the next decade. Even if it doesn’t happen immediately, there’s too much goodness (see: Evan Longoria and James Shields) not to love.

  • Jon Heyman rates the Rays as having the 6th best off-season, noting the Pat Burrell signing as a “steal.” [SI.com]
  • Sometimes they put out really great stuff, like this piece on the Rays pitching staff. Then sometimes they put out something like this, which just leaves us shaking our heads. Can somebody please translate. Our P-Chem textbook made more sense. [Drays Bay]
  • Rays of Light lets it be known that they are disappointed Scott Kazmir won’t be participating in the World Baseball Classic…We gotta admit, there is a side of us that did want to see Kid K wearing the uniform of Team USA. But the Rays have earned our trust at this point and if they say it is not a good idea, we agree. [Rays of Light]
  • Bill Chastain spoke with Mitch Talbot about his callup with the Rays last season and what is expected in 2009. [MLB]
  • Grant Balfour enjoyed a bit of the celebrity life when he was back home in Australia this off-season. [Tampa Tribune]


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