December 2009

Talbot Headed to the Indians

Mitch Talbot will be the player to-be-named later in the Dec. 1 deal that saw the Rays acquire Kelly Shoppach from the Indians for a player to be named.

Talbot was acquired from the Astros, along with Ben Zobrist, in a 2006 deal that sent Aubrey Huff to the Astros. The right-hander has constantly shown good stuff and seemed destined to join the Rays in 2009 except he experienced arm problems. He did pitch well during the Arizona Fall League.

–Bill Chastain

Shealy Joins Rays

According to a report, the Rays have signed first baseman Ryan Shealy to a Minor-League deal with an invitation to Spring Training.

Shealy has played 123 games with the Royals since getting traded by the Rockies in 2006 and has hit .260.

–Bill Chastain

Non-Roster Invitees

Monday the Rays announced the signing of eight non-roster players, each of whom was invited to Spring Training.

Such announcements are the obscure treasures of the Hot Stove season given their history and the Rays.

In recent offseasons, the Rays’ front office has mined left-hander Randy Choate, infielder/outfielder Eric Hinske, and perhaps the all-time greatest non-roster invitee, first baseman Carlos Pena, who responded with 46 home runs that season.

Based on the team’s recent fortunes, one would think lightning couldn’t possibly strike again. But who knows, perhaps Richard de los Santos, R.J. Swindle or any one of this season’s non-roster invitees could become the next big thing for the Rays.

–Bill Chastain

Boras on Pena

Carlos Pena is heading into the last year of his contract and his agent, Scott Boras, spoke briefly about the situation of the Rays first baseman.

“He is heading into his last year, that’s right,” Boras said. “Certainly Tampa has not contacted us or anything about Carlos.”

Boras stated that extending Pena’s contract is up to the Rays.

“Carlos is under contract,” Boras said. “Certainly if they wanted to contact me, I’d listen to that.”

–Bill Chastain

Day Two Begins at the Winter Meetings

The second day of the Winter Meetings is slowly coming to life here in Indianapolis.

Of note, at the end of the first day Brian Shouse did not accept the Rays’ offer of arbitration, which means if the veteran lefty signs with another team, the Rays will receive yet another compensatory draft pick in the June Draft since Shouse was a Type-B free agent.  If that pick does come to fruition, the Rays will have six picks of approximately the first 75.

The Rays received two picks for not signing their top pick in 2009 and they received a compensatory pick when Gregg Zaun, also a Type-B, signed with the Brewers after the Rays had offered him arbitration. The Rays also have a first and second round pick, making the total number six — if Shouse signs with another team.

Talked to Joe Maddon yesterday and he said everything he’s heard about Carlos Pena suggests the Rays first baseman will be ready to play at the beginning of Spring Training. Pena suffered fractures of his left index and middle fingers early in September.

Maddon also said he is eager to work with new hitting coach Derek Shelton. The Rays manager believes Shelton will help implement a uniform approach to hitting throughout the organization.

–Bill Chastain

Not Much From Lou

Just listened in to Lou Piniella’s meeting with the media hoping to hear the Cubs manager weigh in on the latest regarding Milton Bradley, and, as expected, the former Rays manager didn’t have a lot to say.

A reporter told Piniella that Ryan Dempster had said that if the Cubs did not trade Bradley, Cubs players would welcome him back, which served to start the dialogue about Bradley.

Piniella replied with the following: “Look that’s not my department, but I’ll tell you this, Milton played. I don’t exactly remember how many, he played in quite a few games for us. … You know, his first year. … But that’s Jim’s [Henry] department, not mine.”

–Bill Chastain

At the Winter Meetings

Just returned to the media room from the hotel lobby at the Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.  Nothing seems to be heating up just yet, but the usual collection of agents and baseball personnel could be seen talking baseball.

Where the Rays are concerned, there is still a lot of speculation about a Burrell for Bradley trade. Much of the speculation says that the Cubs would need to eat a lot of Bradley’s contract, which will pay him $21 million over the next two seasons, for the Rays to make the deal.

Burrell will be paid $9 million in 2010.

Reporters covering the Rays will meet with Andrew Friedman at around 5 p.m. So stay tuned.

— Bill Chastain