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Sonnanstine non-tenderered, Howell gets contract



UPDATE, 12:37 AM: Executive VP Andrew Friedman explained the decisions, saying they were confident Howell could still regain his pre-surgery and that there was no longer room for Sonnanstine.

On Howell: Friedman noted how much a grind the season seemed to be on Howell physically and mentally coming off major shoulder surgery and seemed confident 2012 will be better. "We’re big believers in who J.P. is and what he’s done to put himself in a position to have a good 2012 season. J.P. is one of those guys you bet on. And we're optimistic he'll be part of a hopefully well-above average bullpen.’’ He said they hope Howell - a free spirit as it is - "takes this winter to relax and clear his mind and come into spring free and clear and get back to strutting off the mound.''

Howell made $1.1-million last season, and isn't going to be in line for much of a raise, so the Rays could end up with a bargain. On the otehr hand, Howell got paid $1.8-million for the 2010 season he missed after the surgery.

On Sonnanstine: Friedman made a point of acknowleding how large a role Sonnanstine played in their success over the last four seasons, saying "we've all been through so much together.''' But with the rotation deep and the bullpen taking shape, Friedman said there was no longer "an optimal fit" for Sonnanstine.  "Looking back we thank him for everything he did, looking forward we felt like there would be better opportunities for him elsewhere.''

Sonnanstine made $912,500 last season and also would have likely gotten a small raise, so the Rays can rellocate that money elsewhere.

BREAKING: The Rays went within 15 minutes of the midnight deadline and announced that RHP Andy Sonnanstine was not tendered a contract and their six other arbitration eligible players were, including LHP J.P. Howell.

Also tendered were RHP Burke Badenhop, RHP Jeff Niemann, RHP Joel Peralta, LHP David Price and CF B.J. Upton.

 Sonnanstine had a rough 2011 season, splitting time between the Rays (0-2, 5.55 in 15 games, including four starts) and Triple-A Durham, while making $912,500 in 2011 after settling to avoid arbitration.

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