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Aybar deal done, could be worth $4.525 M

18

February

The Rays officially announced the signing of INF Willy Aybar to a two-year deal with a 2011 option that could be worth $4.525 million.

"We've had the chance over the last year to really get to know Willy and we feel he brings a lot of our club,'' executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "He's got positional flexibility, good at-bats from both sides of the plate, and we feel he's going to fit in here for a number of years.''

Aybar will get $975,000 this season and $1.35-million in 2010, then either a $2.2-million salary in 2011 or a $275,000 buyout. There are escalator clauses, based on how much he plays, that could increase the 2010 and 2011 salaries, and the whole deal to around $6-million.

It is a little bit unusual for a team to sign a reserve player to a multi-year deal, but Friedman said the Rays were pleased with what Aybar has done and what he might be able to do.

"It's hard for us to look out a couple years and not feel like he fits in to our club,'' Friedman said. "There's always a scenario where he could earn more at-bats some point down the road. We feel like he possesses that ability at some point to do that, and we don't think it's that great of a risk being that we feel he will fit in as we look ahead.

Also, how he has done things. After acquiring Aybar from Atlanta before last season, and knowing he had had substance abuse and a domestic issue in his past, the Rays wanted to see how he handled himself and get to know him, and were impressed.

"It's just the way he fit in,'' Friedman said. "Tremendous teammate, great work ethic, he possessed a lot of things you don't really know until you get somebody in the organization. He embodies a lot of what we're looking for in a player in that respect.''

Aybar had filed for arbitration, seeking $1,050,00 while the Rays offered $900,000. Aybar is a Super Two player, so this was his first of four arbitration eligible seasons.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:44am]

    

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