Rays sign OF Hawpe to minor-league deal
UPDATE, 2:50: The deal is official, Hawpe will join Class A Charlotte for a brief stay starting Saturday.
DEVELOPING: The Rays are going to sign OF Brad Hawpe to a minor-league deal, with the 2009 All-Star expected to join the team by Tuesday.
Hawpe, 31, was released by the Rockies after hitting .255. He hit .285 last season with 23 homers and 42 doubles, and was an All-Star selection. And there is even a Rays connection - he hit the ball that Carl Crawford made the spectacular catch on to win MVP honors in the All-Star Game.
Hawpe is a lefthanded hitter who play primarily rightfield for the Rockies. His numbers and playing time were down this season, though he is still a .280 career hitter, and the Rockies let him go after he cleared waivers.
When Hawpe was designated for assignment Aug. 18, he didn't seem surprised: "I haven't been playing too much for various reasons, and I wasn’t going to be back next year. If I hadn’t been playing the last two months, then the next six weeks they are going to be taking care of younger guys. I could be gone in six weeks or be gone now. I get a chance to hopefully be part of a team that’s in contention and will go into the playoffs.”
The minor-league deal makes sense for two reasons - 1) the Rays' 40-man roster is full so they have to make some kind of move to create room, though it could be as simple as shifting J.P. Howell from the 15-day to 60-day disabled list, and b) Hawpe hasn't played since Aug. 18.
The deal comes with little risk for the Rays beyond the roster spot as they have to pay only the pro-rated portion of the minimum salary, which would be less than $100,000. Hawpe was making $7.5-million in the final season of a 3-year, $17.43-million deal. He had a $10.15-million team option for 2011.
Hawpe averaged 25 homers and 90-plus RBIs over the 2006-09 seasons.