Rays agree to terms with reliever Joe Nelson
UPDATE, 5:10: Nelson truly could not be more excited, saying: "It's been a fabulous Christmas Eve for us. I'm very happy to be staying in the state of Florida and I'm extremely happy to be playing for the defending AL champs, and I hope I can be a good addition to an already great bullpen."
With three kids age 5 and under, Nelson said it was important for him and his wife, Teresa Cortinas, to play close to home. Plus, Teresa is a USF med school graduate, so she is excited about getting back to the Tampa Bay area as well. "The overall fit was great. It really couldn't have worked out any better,'' Nelson said.
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The Rays have agreed to terms with reliever Joe Nelson on a one-year, $1.3-million deal, pending a physical.
Nelson was non-tendered by the Marlins after a successful 2008 season in which he went 3-1 with a 2.00 ERA in 59 games.
Around 20 teams expressed interest, but Nelson chose the Rays for a number of reasons, including the chance to stay closer to his West Palm Beach-area home and to compete in the AL East.
"It's a great fit for Joe on and off the field,'' agent Doug Schaer said.
Nelson, 34, was offered $650,000 by the Marlins but, obviously, made the right decision to become a free agent.
"It was really an enjoyable process for Joe and I because of the quality of the dialogue for a player of this caliber and I want to thank all of the teams involved,'' Schaer said. "The one thing that came up over and over was what a great kid he is and what a quality year he had.''
Nelson gives the Rays depth and another bullpen option, which is important since they don't know if closer Troy Percival, who had off-season back surgery, will be ready at the start of the season.