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 add 4 to 40-man, sign 3 to minor league contracts with invites to spring training
Posted Nov 20, 2013 by Roger Mooney
Updated Nov 20, 2013 at 06:51 PM
The Rays added four minor leaguers—infielder Vince Belnome, right-handed pitchers Jesse Hahn and Kirby Yates and left-handed pitcher C.J. Riefenhauser—to their 40-man roster, thus protecting them from the Rule 5 Draft that will be held on the final day of the next month’s Winter Meetings.
The additions bring the total of players on the Rays 40-man roster to 37.
The Rays also signed right-handed pitchers Mark Lowe, Victor Mateo and Sam Reunion to minor league deals with invites to major league spring training.
Also signed to minor league deals without spring training invites were catcher Mayo Acosta and right-handed pitchers Mike Colla, Eduar Quiñonez and Albert Suarez.
Here is a breakdown in each from the Rays press release:
Belnome (bell-NO-may), 25, spent the 2013 season at Triple-A Durham and hit .300 (133-for-444) with eight home runs and 67 RBI in 127 games. He ranked among International League leaders in hits (133, 4th), doubles (35, T-3rd), batting average (.300, 7th), on-base percentage (.408, 2nd), runs scored (77, 2nd) and walks (84, T-3rd). In his first year in the Rays system, the Coatesville, Pa. native was named Durham’s Most Valuable Player by the Rays baseball operations department while earning spots on both the International League midseason and postseason All-Star teams. He was acquired from the San Diego Padres in exchange for minor league left-handed pitcher Chris Rearick following the 2012 season.
Hahn, 24, went 2-1 with a 2.15 ERA (67-IP, 16-ER) in 19 starts at Class-A Charlotte in 2013 and was named to the Florida State League’s midseason All-Star Team. Baseball America tabbed him as having the Best Fastball in the Rays system in its Best Tools Survey following the 2012 season. The righthander has a career 2.38 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 121 innings pitched over two minor league seasons. He was selected by the Rays in the sixth round of the 2010 June Draft out of Virginia Tech University.
Riefenhauser (REEF-en-how-zer), 23, split the season between Double-A Montgomery and Durham, compiling a 1.22 ERA (73.2-IP, 10-ER) in 51 total appearances. He was named to the Southern League’s midseason All-Star Team and also represented the U.S. Team in the Futures Game at New York’s Citi Field in July. At season’s end, Baseball America selected him to the 2013 Minor League All-Star Team, the only relief pitcher named to the first team. He was also named by Baseball America as the Best Reliever in the Southern League. The lefthander has a career 2.99 ERA over four minor league seasons. He was selected by the Rays in the 20th round of the 2010 June Draft out of Chipola (Fla.) Junior College.
Yates, 26, spent the season at Durham and earned midseason All-Star honors, going 3-2 with a 1.90 ERA (61.2-IP, 13-ER) and 93 strikeouts in 51 appearances. His 20 saves led Rays farmhands and tied for third in the International League. Following the season, he was named the organization’s Best Relief Pitcher by the Rays baseball operations department. Over five minor league seasons, he has averaged 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings pitched with a .202 batting average against. Yates was signed as a non-drafted free agent in June 2009.
Lowe, 30, has spent parts of eight seasons in the major leagues with the Seattle Mariners (2006-10), Texas Rangers (2010-12) and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2013). He owns a career 4.17 ERA in 264 games, all in relief. Last season, Lowe pitched in 11 games for the Angels after making their Opening Day roster. He was designated for assignment on May 29, signed a minor league contract with the Washington Nationals in June and spent the remainder of the season with Triple-A Syracuse, where he went 3-1 with a 3.14 ERA (28.2-IP, 10-ER) and 37 strikeouts in 24 games.
Mateo, 24, has spent his entire career in the Rays organization and was briefly a free agent before re-signing with the club. In 2013, his first year at the Double-A level, he went 7-9 with a 3.93 ERA (153.1-IP, 67-ER) in 27 games (26 starts) for Montgomery. On August 24, the Dominican Republic native recorded the second no-hitter in Biscuits history in a nine-inning shutout vs. Jacksonville (Marlins).
Runion, who turned 25 this month, spent the first seven years of his professional career in the Kansas City Royals system. He pitched in 37 games (one start) for Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2013, going 4-2 with a 3.72 ERA (55.2-IP, 23-ER), and in July pitched in one game for Omaha, his Triple-A debut. He was selected by the Royals in the second round of the 2007 June Draft out of Asheville (N.C.) High School.
DeJesus guaranteed $10.5 million with new contract
Posted Nov 6, 2013 by Roger Mooney
Updated Nov 6, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Outfielder David DeJesus took less for more when he agreed Sunday to a contract extension with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays held a $6.5 million club option on DeJesus for the 2014 season, but DeJesus agreed to a new two-year deal with a club option for a third season that pays less in 2014 but guarantees him $10.5 million.
DeJesus, who received a $25,000 signing bonus, will make $4.25 million in 2014 and $5 million in 2015. The 2016 option calls for a $5 million salary or a $1 million buyout.
DeJesus, acquired from the Washington Nationals on Aug. 23, said earlier this week he wanted to remain a Ray.
“I feel the team fit me the best, and being around that winning atmosphere, I feel that I would miss it if had to go somewhere else,” he said.
DeJesus reached the playoffs in 2013 for the first time in his 11-year career.
Myers, Archer finalists for AL ROY, Fernandez finalist in NL
Posted Nov 5, 2013 by Roger Mooney
Updated Nov 5, 2013 at 07:19 PM
Wil Myers and Chris Archer were named finalists for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s annual American League rookie of the year award Tuesday night.
Alonso High product Jose Fernandez of the Marlins is a finalist in the National League.
Myers was voted AL rookie of the year by major league players in two separate votes. Same with Fernandez. The two are the front-runners for the awards.
Fernandez is vying with Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller and Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig.
Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias joins Myers and Archer in the AL.
Rays pick up option on DeJesus
Posted Nov 3, 2013 by Roger Mooney
Updated Nov 3, 2013 at 10:50 PM
The Rays not only picked up the 2014 option on outfielder David DeJesus on Sunday night, but DeJesus confirmed in a text to the Tribune that he and the team are working toward a multi-year deal.
DeJesus, who will be 34 next season, will make $6.5 million this season as part of a two-year, $10 million deal with a club option he signed before the 2012 season with the Cubs.
The Cubs traded DeJesus to the Nationals on Aug. 19. The Rays acquired DeJesus on Aug. 23 from the Nationals for a player to be named later, who turned out to be minor league left-handed pitcher Matthew Spann.
The 11-year-vet, a career .279 hitter, batted .260 in 104 at-bats over 35 games. He hit two home runs and drove in 11 RBI.
DeJesus ended the longest game in Rays history when he singled home Desmond Jennings in the 18th inning to give the Rays a 5-4, 18-inning victory Sept. 20 against the visiting Orioles.
DeJesus will platoon in left field with Matt Joyce and will also serve as Jennings’s backup in center field. He can also fill in at right field for Wil Myers.
DeJesus can also rotate through the designated hitter spot with Joyce and Myers, meaning the Rays may no longer be in the market for a traditional DH. If so, they can resign Delmon Young and use him as the right-handed half of a DH platoon with DeJesus and Joyce.
Rays pick up options on Zobrist, Escobar
Posted Nov 2, 2013 by Roger Mooney
Updated Nov 2, 2013 at 12:09 PM
As expected, the Tampa Bay Rays picked up the 2014 options on second baseman Ben Zobrist and shortstop Yunel Escobar today.
Zobrist will make $7 million in 2014, while Escobar will make $5 million.
Picking up the option on Escobar’s contract, which he signed in 2012 when he was with the Toronto Blue Jays, ensures that the Rays will have three-fourths of their infield return next season. First baseman James Loney is a free agent, but the Rays would like to resign him.
Sunday is the deadline for the Rays to either pick up the $6.5 million option on outfielder David DeJesus or pay DeJesus a $1.5 million buyout. The Rays would like to have DeJesus as part of the outfield in 2014 but $6.5 million is a little steep.
The deadline to pickup the $2 million option for reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo is Monday. The Rays eyed him as the replacement for closer Fernando Rodney, now a free agent, when they signed Oviedo to a minor league contract last January.
Oviedo spent the season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. It was expected that Oviedo would pitch in September. Because that did not happen, picking up his option now comes with a risk.