Howell: "I want to be a Ray" and other non-tender notes
J.P. Howell said he understood the Rays decision to not tender him a contract and seek to reduce his salary, and fully expects to work out a deal, likely within the next week, to return.
"I’d be shocked if that didn’t happen,’’ Howell said. “I want to be a Ray. It’s where I know success. I don’t ever want to leave.’’
Howell missed the entire 2010 season due to a shoulder injury that required May surgery, and while he is making good progress in his rehab he won't be ready to start the 2011 season.
The non-tender decision allows the Rays - who are trimming their payroll - to work around the rule that limits the reduction of a player's salary by 20 percent. Howell made $1.8-million last season.
“That definitely factors in,’’ Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said. “We can go back and forth a little bit more. It’s been a good dialogue. I’d be surprised if we weren't able to work something out.''
The Rays also declined to tender contracts to RHP Lance Cormier, INF/DH Willy Aybar and C Dioner Navarro.
In the case of Cormier and Aybar, Friedman said the Rays have interest in bringing them back, but were more interested in having the flexibility (and thus more money) to address more important needs first depending on who is available.
"Right now the market is flooded with players,'' Friedman said. "There's a lot of supply out there and it's something for us to maintain some flexibility in which way we go, and understanding the different options. And once one domino falls it will help us gain some clarity, but in the meantime flexibility was important. But in both cases we would have interest in bringing the player back.''
In the case of Navarro, who was a 2008 All-Star but struggled immensely since, it was time to say goodbye. Navarro spent more than two months of the 2010 season in the minors, then deserted the team when he was left off the division series roster.
"Probably the right time to move on,'' Friedman said. "It was something that I think was inevitable and a lot of people anticipated. That said, Navi was a big part of our success, especially in 2008, and we wish him well. It's just one of those things with (John Jaso) and (Kelly) Shoppach, we felt like we had the two guys we were going to go with in 2011 and we'd give him an opportunity to catch on with another team.''