UPDATE: Fuld, W. Wright non-tendered
UPDATE, 11:56: Friedman said the Rays would remain open to re-signing Wright, that "This move isn't about his talent as much as it's about our current bullpen setup.''
Wright's agent, Larry Reynolds, said: "Wesley enjoyed his short time with the Rays and appreciated the opportunity. We both realize it's a business so obviously it's time to move on. I'm very confident that a pitcher with Wesley's resume will do fine.''
UPDATE, 11:05: LHP Wesley Wright was also non-tendered.
UPDATE, 8:59: Fuld said he knew it was a possibility, but that didn't make it any less disappointing.
"I would say I'm definitely more disappointed than I am surprised. ... It's upsetting just thinking about not being with these guys when I've had such a good experience. It's a little disheartening thinking ahead to next year ... ,'' Fuld said.
"I think that's part of why it's so upsetting tonight is that it was just a good fit. I felt so comfortable there. If there was a perfect organization to be a part of for me, I think Tampa Bay was it. It's difficult to think about being in a different uniform.''
Though he has "certainly not ruled out" re-signing with the Rays, he will explore all options, saying there was "a 1-in-30" chance.
Fuld will hold his planned diabetes camp early next year at USF, and said he would like to continue it in the future.
From what Rays exec VP Andrew Friedman told him, Fuld said the early tender deadline may have worked against him because without knowing whether they have a right- or-lefthanded hitting first baseman the Rays don't know how they want to align their bench players. Another element is that OF Brandon Guyer is out of options.
UPDATE, 6:43: OF Sam Fuld is going to be non-tendered and will become a free agent, the Times has learned.
Fuld will explore all options, as there is no agreement in place to return to the Rays. Though he hit only .199 this season, he played in 119 games, including 48 starts. And, don't forget, he also pitched in a game, Sept. 2 at Angel Stadium.
Fuld will be remembered for a series of exciting plays, but nothing may top his April 2011 diving catch at Chicago's US Cellular Field.
DEVELOPING: The Rays have to decide by midnight tonight whether to tender contracts to their nine arbitration eligible players.
With more than $30-milllion already committed to eight signed players, and the potential of a total payroll of about $60-million, even some of the small decisions can be important.
Five of the nine - LHP David Price, OF Matt Joyce, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, LHP Jake McGee, C Jose Lobaton - are easy calls, with the mlbtraderumors.com projection they will make around $23-million total.
The other four require further thought, especially given the deadline this early in the off-season, and thus the potential of trades: LHP Wesley Wright (projected to make $1.4-million), INF/OF Sean Rodriguez ($1.3M); OF Sam Fuld ($900,000), LHP Cesar Ramos ($700,000).
Tendered players who don't sign by Jan. 14 file for arbitration, with figures exchanged Jan. 17 and hearings in February. Non-tendered players become free agents, which also means the Rays could will have more candidates to consider as they seek a first baseman, relievers and a bench player or two.
Here is a look at the Rays nine arb eligibles:
LHP David Price
2014 projection: $13.1M
2013 salary: $10.1M
2013 stats: 10-8, 3.33 27 starts
OF Matt Joyce
2014 projection: $3.7M
2013 salary: $2.45M
2013 stats: .235, 18 HRs, 47 RBIs, .747 OPS
LHP Wesley Wright
2014 projection: $1.4M
2013 salary: $1.03M
2013 stats: 0-0, 2.92 16 games (12.1 IP) for Rays
0-4, 3.69, 70 games (53.2 IP) overall
INF/OF Sean Rodriguez
2014 projection: $1.3M
2013 salary: $1M
2013 stats: .246, 5 HRs, 23 RBIs, .705 OPS
OF Sam Fuld
2014 projection: $900K
2013 salary: $725K
2013 stats: .199, 2 HRs, 17 RBIs, .537 OPS
RHP Jeremy Hellickson*
2014 projection: $3.3M
2013 salary: $503K
2013 stats: 12-10, 5.17, 32 games (31 starts)
LHP Cesar Ramos*
2014 projection: $700K
2013 salary: $501K
2013 stats: 2-2, 4.18, 48 games (67.1 IP)
LHP Jake McGee*
2014 projection: $1.2M
2013 salary: $506K
2013 stats: 5-3-1, 4.02, 71 games (62.3 IP)
C Jose Lobaton*
2014 projection: $1M
2013 salary: $497K
2013 stats: .249, 7 HRs, 32 RBIs, .714 OPS
* First-time eligibles