Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Rays decline 2011 options on Wheeler, Aybar
Posted Nov 3, 2010 by Roger Mooney
Updated Nov 3, 2010 at 08:25 PM
Dan Wheeler, who would have made $4 million in 2011, is now one of 11 Rays who are free agents
By ROGER MOONEY
The Rays declined to pick up the 2011 options on reliever Dan Wheeler and DH/infielder Willy Aybar.
Wheeler, who received a $1 million buyout, was due to make $4 million next season. He is now a free agent, bringing the Rays total of free agents to 11.
Aybar, who received a $275,000 buyout, was due to make $2.2 million in 2011. He still remains under the team’s control and is arbitration eligible.
“If you go by what was said you can almost read the writing on the wall,” Wheeler said. “I feel wholeheartedly it wasn’t a personal move, it was a business decision and, who knows what may happen in the future. I might still be a Ray in 2011. We’ll see.”
In addition, the Rays also purchased the contract of INF Elliot Johnson from Triple A Durham and added him to the 40-man roster.
Wheeler was 2-4 with three saves and a 3.35 ERA in 2010. In two tours with the team, the right-hander was 13-25 with 18 saves and a 4.32 ERA.
All seven members of the 2010 bullpen could be free agents this offseason if the Rays do not offer arbitration to Lance Cormier. Because the team will be looking for relievers this winter, Wheeler said the Rays will be one team he will be looking at when looking for a job.
“Absolutely,” he said. “You never know what might happen. I talked to (VP of baseball) Andrew (Friedman), he said keep the lines of communications open. I think that’s something we’d both be open to if it’s the right fit. Never say never.”
The switch-hitting Aybar batted .200 this season with six home runs and 43 RBIs. He hit .246 with 28 home runs and 117 RBIs since joining the team in 2008.
Aybar was not on the original ALDS roster but was added before Game 2 against Texas when Rocco Baldelli was removed.