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UPDATED: Rays expected to trade Wil Myers, but why?

Wil Myers, 24, was a popular topic of discussion at the winter meetings in San Diego, as five-six teams called about him, and obviously those discussions continued.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Wil Myers, 24, was a popular topic of discussion at the winter meetings in San Diego, as five-six teams called about him, and obviously those discussions continued.

UPDATE, 4:38: Word is the Rays are down to two scenarios, depending on whether the Nationals are in or out. Under these scenarios, they would give up Myers, Hanigan and two low-level minor-leaguers and either way end up with C Rene Rivera, RHP Burch Smith and minor-league 1B Jake Bauers from the Padres.

The Rays also would get RHP Joe Ross and 2014 1st-round pick SS Trea Turner (who would be listed as a PTBNL). If the Nationals are in, the Rays would ship Ross and Turner to them and get back OF Steven Souza and a Class A LHP, Travis Ott. If the Nationals are not in, the Rays would keep Ross and Turner.

Trading Hanigan, 34, saves the Rays at least $8-million - the $3.5-million he was to get this season, his $3.7-million salary for 2016 and the $800,000 buyout on his $3.75-million option for 2017. Hanigan was limited to 84 games due to a series of injuries last season, hitting .218 with five homers and 34 RBIs.

The Rays previously dumped their other main 2014 catcher, Jose Molina.

UPDATE, 3:25: The Rays are expected to trade Myers today or Thursday, with details regarding the number of players and teams in the deal still being discussed. …

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McGee out through April after surgery, Rays trade Joyce for reliever Jepsen

The Rays acquired reliever Kevin Jepsen from the Angels in trade for Matt Joyce, pictured.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

The Rays acquired reliever Kevin Jepsen from the Angels in trade for Matt Joyce, pictured.

UPDATE, 3:29: McGee said he expects to be back in late April or early May. He was working out when he felt something in his elbow and noticed it was swelling, that an MRI showed "pretty much a big bone spur" had moved behind his elbow and he had surgery performed by Dr. Koco Eaton. "It was pretty disappointing to get that report,'' he said.

McGee said it wasn't an issue last season, and that the spur could have moved at any time so he is glad it wasn't during the season. "It's a little setback, not a huge one,'' McGee said.

DEVELOPING: The Rays acquired reliever Kevin Jepsen from the Angels in trade for Matt Joyce on Tuesday and announced that closer Jake McGee had elbow surgery and will miss the start of the season.

McGee had a solid season for the Rays in taking over as the closer, posting 19 saves and a 1.89 ERA. The Rays said he had athroscopic surgery on Friday to "remove a loose body" and is doing well so far, but will definitely open the season on the DL, with a timetable for his return determined in spring training. …

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Rays lending hands by serving Thanksmas meals

Rays P Alex Cobb and 3B coach Tom Foley serve hot meals on Tuesday at the St. Petersburg Salvation Army center.

MARC TOPKIN / TIMES

Rays P Alex Cobb and 3B coach Tom Foley serve hot meals on Tuesday at the St. Petersburg Salvation Army center.

Current and former Rays players, coaches, broadcasters and staff are spending the week serving Thanksmas meals to needy families and individuals around the Tampa Bay area, including stops Tuesday at Salvation Army centers in St. Petersburg and Tampa.

The program - now called Rays Thanksmas after the departure of manager Joe Maddon - continues to be an important event for the centers. More than 130 citizens were served a hot meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes and green beans, plus cake and soda, on Tuesday in St. Petersburg, and each got a Rays Thanksmas sweatshirt as a parting gift.

"It went really well,'' said Randi-Lynn Farrell, director of development at the St. Petersburg center. "And there was a lot of interaction with the Rays people, which was great.''

The program runs through Friday, with stops Wednesday in Clearwater, Thursday in Orlando and Friday in Bradenton.

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Kevin Cash ready to get to work as new Rays manager

Kevin Cash, 37, was hired Dec. 5, but Monday was his formal introduction to the Tampa Bay area.

SAM OWENS | Times

Kevin Cash, 37, was hired Dec. 5, but Monday was his formal introduction to the Tampa Bay area.

Kevin Cash got to slip off his suit coat and pull on his No. 16 jersey briefly during Monday's news conference as new manager of the Rays. And by the time was finished with the latest round of interviews at Tropicana Field, he made it clear he is ready to ditch the fancy threads and get down to managing. …

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Rays to introduce new manager Kevin Cash today at Trop

The Rays will formally introduce new manager Kevin Cash today at a news conference at the Trop.

Cash, 37, was hired Dec. 5 to replace Joe Maddon.

The Tampa native has been on the go since, joining team officials in San Diego last week at baseball's winter meetings, sitting in on sessions about player evaluations and potential trades, and calling as many of his current players and staff as he can.

Cash returned to his home near Cleveland for daughter Ella's 7th birthday party, then headed back to the Tampa Bay area Saturday, splitting time between house-hunting and more meetings.

Among other issues, Cash and Rays officials have to hire another coach and settle on the alignment of the staff.

For more on Cash - who played for the Devil Rays briefly in 2005 - here is today's story full of interesting notes about him.

Check back for updates from today's session.

 

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Rays sign Wilson and Velez, complete trade with Pirates

From Saturday's Tampa Bay Times print edition:

The Rays added another option for their backup catcher's job, and didn't have to look far, signing Seminole High and St. Petersburg College product Bobby Wilson to a minor-league deal with a spring training invitation.

Wilson, 31, has played parts of six seasons in the majors with the Angels and D'backs and is eager to join offseason workouts.

"I'm really excited,'' he said. "'To be able to, hopefully, play at home would be a dream come true really.''

The Rays also have Curt Casali on the roster to compete for the job as Ryan Hanigan 's backup and might keep looking.

The team also signed INF/OF Eugenio Velez , a 32-year-old who has five seasons with the Dodgers and Giants, and formalized the previously reported signing of OF Corey Brown , a 29-year-old Tampa native and Plant High product. Both also get spring invites.

Also, the Rays received RHP Buddy Borden from the Pirates to complete the trade for INF/OF Sean Rodriguez . Borden, 22, was 7-9 with a 3.16 ERA at Class A West Virginia with 122 strikeouts and 48 walks in 128 innings last season. The Rays also got an undisclosed amount of cash.

 

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Rays sign Bobby Wilson, Eugenio Velez to minor-league deals

UPDATE, 6:35: Wilson, who lives in Largo, is thrilled to have the opportunity and eager to get to work.

"I'm really excited,'' Wilson said. "They called right away after the season and their interest seemed pretty high. To be able to, hopefully, play at home would be a dream come true really.''

Wilson said one benefit will be getting to join off-season workouts at the Trop and start getting to know the pitchers.

DEVELOPING: The Rays added another option for their second catching position, signing Seminole High product Bobby Wilson to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training.

Wilson, 31, has played parts of six seasons in the majors with the Angels and Diamondbacks, hitting .209 in 193 games.

The Rays also signed INF/Eugenio Velez, who has played parts of five seasons in the majors with the Dodgers and Giants, and formalized the previously announced signing of OF Corey Brown, a Tampa native and product of Plant High.

Here is some more information on the three, as provided by the Rays: …

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Rays acquire Buddy Borden from Pirates to complete Sean Rodriguez trade

The Rays acquired minor-league RHP Buddy Borden on Friday to complete the recent trade of INF/OF Sean Rodriguez to the Pirates.

Borden, a seventh-round draft pick in 2013, was as 7-9, 3.16 at Class A West Virginia with 122 strikeouts and 48 walks in 128 innings last year in his first full minor-league season.

He was born in Las Vegas and attended UNLV. And per baseball-reference.com, his real name is Buddy Webster Borden.

The Rays also received cash in the deal for the versatile veteran Rodriguez, who was deemed expendable after hitting .211 last season though ranking second on the team with 12 homers.

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Rays lose C prospect Oscar Hernandez in Rule 5 draft

The Rays lost intriguing C prospect Oscar Hernandez in today's Rule 5 draft of minor-leaguers, but seem to think there is chance they will see him again.

Hernandez, 21, was the top pick of the draft by Arizona, but under MLB rules has to be kept in the big leagues for the entire season or offered back to the Rays for $25,000, which is half the drafting fee.

"He's a talented player but in our judgment he's pretty far away,'' Rays VP Chaim Bloom said. "So we're hopeful that we get him back, but obviously understand that there's a risk that we might not.''

Though Hernandez has impressive tools, he played last season at low Class A Bowling Green, hitting hitting .249 w/9 HRs, 63 RBIs, .301 OBP, and was scheduled to move up only to advanced Class A Charlotte, so that would seem a bit of a stretch for him to play in the big leagues.

"We had him projected in high-A so I would say that would be a reach on our evaluation,'' Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics said. "I'm hoping (we get him back). We want to continue to develop Oscar.'' …

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Live from San Diego: Thursday winter meetings report

UPDATE, 11:37: There was one bit of actual Rays news this morning, as the promotion of Kyle Snyder to Triple-A pitching coach has been made official. Snyder, who had been a minor-league coordinator, replaces Neil Allen, who was hired to the Twins big-league staff,

DEVELOPING: Some top Rays officials have already left San Diego, so don't expect the Rays to join the late flirry of moves as the meetings draw to a close.

But other teams continue to do business:

The Red Sox, after agreeing to a trade for LHP Wade Riley, were finalizing a deal to get RHP Rick Porcello from the Tigers in return for OF Yeonis Cespedes.

The Marlins, after their busy Wednesday, were working to get RHP Mat Latos from the Reds.

And the Tigers were seeking to add another starter from the Reds as well, reportedly RHP Alfredo Simon.

The Dodgers and Padres were finalizing the deal to send OF Matt Kemp to San Diego for a package topped by C Yasmani Grandal.

The Rule 5 draft of minor-league players, in which Rays C Oscar Hernandez is reportedly under consideration as the top pick, starts at noon Tampa Bay time, 9 here.

 

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Busy late night for former Rays/now Dodgers boss Friedman

Former Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman made a flurry of deals Wednesday with his new Dodgers team, some official and some still not quite, that changed the look his team.

"Within the totality of it we made ourselves a better team,'' Friedman said.

Among the moves, they acquired SS Jimmy Rollins from the Phillies and 2B Howie Kendrick from trhe Angels while signing free-agent RHP Brandon McCarthy.

Here are some of the details: …

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Rays' Oscar Hernandez is top pick in Rule 5 draft

UPDATE, 12:01 p.m.: The Arizona Diamondbacks took Rays catcher Oscar Hernandez with the first pick in the Rule 5 draft.

DEVELOPING: According to the usually tuned-in experts at Baseball America, Rays C Oscar Hernandez may be the top pick in Thursday's Rule 5 draft by Arizona.

Hernandez, 21, would be a bit of a reach, as he played last season at the low Class A Bowling Green level, hitting .249 w/9 HRs, 63 RBIs, .301 OBP. He made a name for himself in 2011 when he had a remarkable season in the Venezuelan Summer League, hitting .402 with 21 homers and 66 RBIs in 69 games.

Players taken in the Rule 5 draft have to be kept on the major-league roster for the entire season, or offered back to their original team for $50,000.

Rays baseball operations president Matt Silverman seemed braced Wednesday for the possibility they would have a player selected, noting "It's rare for a player to stick, this is just the first part of a very long process.''

Here is the scouting report on Hernandez, per Baseball America's Rule 5 draft preview:

Why He Could Be Picked
 …

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Top agent Boras again says Rays should be in Montreal

Though the Rays are pushing for a deal to explore sites for a new stadium around the Tampa Bay area, top baseball agent Scott Boras renewed his pitch for them to move instead to Montreal.

Asked about the state of the Rays. Boras praised departed manager Joe Maddon and executive VP Andrew Friedman, then said "the third thing about Tampa Bay is that everyone always wonders why they're not playing in Montreal."

Boras included himself in that group. "I've always felt that Montreal was a tremendous major-league city and I think it's a town that if you put a ballpark there and particularly with the communications broadcasting rights and such that are there that it would be a tremendous succes and a very valued point for baseball,'' he said.

Boras made a similar suggestion about the Rays at the 2013 winter meetings and at the All-Star Game.

 

 

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Live from San Diego: Wednesday winter meetings report

UPDATE, 8:03: The Rays continue to have numerous conversations but, as of now, are unlikely to make any deals before leaving San Diego on Thursday.

"The conversations persist, the phone continues to ring and beep'' Silverman said. "But we're still in the conversation phase on many aspects.''

There has been plenty to talk about.

 

"Today is wacky Wednesday,''  Silverman said. "This is the day when all of the crazy, bigger scenarios seem to come out. It's quite entertaining. It keeps us busy. It keeps our mind pretty active just thinking through possibilities but often times there is very little substance to the ideas floated out there.''

UPDATE, 3:22: Not much action yet this morning, though plenty of lobby chatter. One thing going around that makes sense is that free-agent OF Jonny Gomes, a Lester buddy and long a Maddon favorite, could be headed to the Cubs.

The Nationals, per the Washington Post, were among the team asking the Rays about Ben Zobrist and - no surprise - came away feeling the price would be quite high. …

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Maddon's Cubs sign top free agent starter Jon Lester

Jon Lester was deciding between the Cubs and returning to the Red Sox, so his decision is good news for the Rays, who won't have to face him several times a season now, given his 13-9, 4.08 record against them.

AP photo

Jon Lester was deciding between the Cubs and returning to the Red Sox, so his decision is good news for the Rays, who won't have to face him several times a season now, given his 13-9, 4.08 record against them.

Joe Maddon and the Chicago Cubs were the big winners late Tuesday when they won the bidding for top free agent starter Jon Lester, who agreed to a 6-year, $155-million deal.

"It's really exciting,'' Maddon said. "It's not often you get to win the lottery, and we've won the baseball lottery so far this year.''

Lester was deciding between the Cubs and returning to the Red Sox, so his decision is good news for the Rays, who won't have to face him several times a season now, given his 13-9, 4.08 record against them.

Following the acquisition of C Miguel Montero earlier Tuesday, Maddon said the Cubs were now fully immersed in Plan A as they seek to return to contention in the NL Central.

"It's been a pretty good day,'' Maddon said. "Plan A would be that once you get a guy like Lester and Montero you can throw the cards in there a little bit and see where it's going to take you. It permits you to really want and to do other things.''

The addition of Lester can be viewed as a franchise-changing move, Maddon said. …

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