December 2010

Choate Signs Two-Year Deal with Marlins

Randy Choate has signed a two-year deal with the Marlins that will pay him $2.5 million with incentives.

Choate, 35, went 4-3 with a 4.23 ERA in 85 appearances for the Rays in 2010.

— Bill Chastain

Rays Sign Howell to One-Year Deal

The Rays have signed J.P. Howell to a one-year deal for an unspecified amount.

Howell missed the 2010 season after having left-shoulder surgery. It is likely he will miss the first part of the season for the latter stages of his rehab, but his return will give the Rays’ pen a boost.

— Bill Chastain

Catching Up in Orlando

The Rays are about to kick off the third day of the Winter Meetings and thus far rumors have dominated the news.

Highlighting Tuesday’s rumors was the Rays interest in Rich Harden.  Meanwhile, Johnny Damon told the St. Petersburg Times he’s like to be a Ray.  Former Major Leaguer Gary Sheffield was also on hand Tuesday and expressed a desire to join his hometown team.

Damon might make sense if the Rays can land him. Joe Maddon has always liked Damon and those of us covering the team can remember the Rays manager telling us last season that he could still play.

Jason Bartlett still appears to be in play if the Rays can find the right trade partner for their starting shortstop.

The Carl Crawford sweepstakes has not yet reached a fever pitch — that will likely begin after Cliff Lee finds a home.  Meanwhile the Cubs appear close to a deal with Carlos Pena.

There are still a lot of free agents out there as well as a lot of players teams are willing to trade.  Should be interesting.

— Bill Chastain

Piniella on the Rays

Former Rays manager Lou Piniella had nice things to say about the Rays Tuesday when he noted:

“They’ve done a heck of a job over there with that franchise.  They’ve made some really astute trades and free-agent acquisitions. They’ve got some really good players coming through that system.  They’ve had a marvelous team for four, five years.  Now Andrew has another challenge ahead of him.  He knows baseball.  My last year there, we would talk almost every day.  I could tell he was a bright young kid.  I didn’t know he’d be the general manager, but it worked out that way. I tip my cap to him.  He’s done a nice job.”

— Bill Chastain