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Pena thrilled to get 3 years, $24.125-million

18

January

Sp_273258_borc_rays_10_3 The Rays have agreed to a three-year deal with team MVP Carlos Pena for $24.125-million, the Times has learned.

The team confirmed the deal with an announcement shortly before 1 p.m.

"It's awesome,'' Pena said this morning from the Dominican Republic. "It's extremely exciting. I get to be in a place I absolutely love, around people that I love and people that I know care about me. It couldn't be any better. I'm pumped. We're celebrating.''

Pena will get salaries of $6-million of 2008, $8-million in 2009 and $10.125-million in 2010. The deal is subject to Pena passing a physical, which likely won't take place until next week when he returns to the U.S. Until then, the team announced, there is a one-year deal in place that can be extended to three years.

The deal puts Pena under contract with the Rays through 2010, avoiding arbitration this season and next and buying out his first year of free agency.

Pena, 29, was the consensus American League Comeback Player of the Year after a spectacular season in which he finished with a team-record 46 home runs and 121 runs batted in.

Pena said he commended Rays' executive VP Andrew Friedman and his agent, Scott Boras, for the manner in which they handled the negotiations, which were concluded early this morning. "I can't tell you how awesome Scott did with this deal and how awesome Andrew did,'' Pena said. "Hats off to both of them.''

The contract will be one of the largest given by Stuart Sternberg's ownership group, and among the largest in franchise history.

Pena was one of the game's biggest bargains in 2007, signing a minor-league deal to come to spring training and making just $800,000 in salary, with another $400,000 in incentives.

The Rays are taking something of a gamble in hoping Pena can continue producing at close to what was by far his career-best year and could have a bargain if he does, while Pena is getting the security of the money and the opportunity to stay with the team, where he has been very comfortable.

As part of the deal, Pena will donate $225,000 to the Rays Baseball Foundation, which supports area youth and education programs.

The $24-million overall guarantee and annual average value of $8-million are the largest amounts committed by the Rays since the previous administration gave Greg Vaughn a $34-million, four-year deal in 2000. WIlson Alvarez got a $35-million, five-year deal in 1998.

Since Sternberg's group got involved with the team, they signed Carl Crawford to a four-year, $15.25-million deal that with options could be worth up to $35-million and gave Rocco Baldelli a three-year deal for $9-million that with options could be worth $32-million. More recently, they signed Troy Percival to a two-year deal for a guaranteed $8-million that could be worth up to $13-million with incentives.

- Marc Topkin, Times staff writer

-- Photo by James Borchuck | Times, 2007

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

    

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