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Back to business ....

7

December

Now that the five days of hype and extra attention are over, Rays officials are back home working to make deals as they normally do - in private, by phone and e-mail, without the scrutiny of daily media briefings and speculation based on who they were seen talking to in a hotel hallway.

The Rays came home from Nashville with one less headache - having made Elijah Dukes' the Nationals' problem - and the same needs they had going in: a lefthanded hitting outfielder, a lefty reliever, a super utilityman, and a potential upgrade at catcher.

And they are not in any hurry to fill those needs, willing to be ambitious and willing to explore all avenues in shooting high before settling for Plan B or C.

For example, though there has been considerable chatter about acquiring C Michael Barrett, nothing is imminent. And probably won't be until they fill their top priority and get that extra outfielder.

The scenario going around the Internet Friday made sense, that Barrett's decision to accept arbitration from the Padres - even though they only project platoon duty for him - was made so he could instead be traded to the Rays (or elsewhere) and get the playing time he craved. That's because as a free agent (had he refused arbitration) a signing team would have had to give up a draft pick, whereas this way they can give the Padres a spare part.

Eventually, that could happen with the Rays. (Or the Padres could make it more interesting by acquiring Houston OF Luke Scott, whom the Rays also have interest in.) But the Rays have other needs beyond catcher to fill first, and that's what they're likely to focus on for now. And with the approaching Dec. 12 deadline for contracts to be tendered, they may wait even longer to see who else becomes available.

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:33am]

    

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