Wheeler latest to leave, joins Red Sox for $3M
UPDATE, 4:14: Wheeler said there were some mixed emotions in leaving the Rays, and the comforts of playing at home since he lives in Seminole, but he was excited by the opportunity to play for his hometown team, having grown up in Rhode Island.
"I wouldn't trade any of my time in Tampa Bay for anything, I really enjoyed my time there,'' he said. "It's unfortunately part of the game, the business side of it, and you move on. I'm really excited about the opportunity to play for the Red Sox. Obviously I'm from Rhode Island, and they were my team growing up, so I'm definitely exited about it.''
Wheeler said there were some talks with the Rays about staying, but he obviously got a better offer: "I think this was just the best fit for me.''
UPDATE, 11:39: Wheeler got paid according to detail from fanhouse.com, with a $3-million salary in 2011 and either $3-million or $3.25-million for his 2012 option based on appearances.
DEVELOPING: Add Dan Wheeler to the list of relievers who've officially left the Rays, as he agreed to terms with the Red Sox, according to ESPN's Gordon Edes.
Wheeler got a one-year deal with a team option for 2012 that would vest with 65 appearances, according to WEEI.com. No financial terms were yet available.
Wheeler, 33, was 2-4 with a 3.35 ERA for the Rays in 64 games last season. The Rays first declined a $4-million option on Wheeler, opting to pay him a $1-million buyout, then declined to offer him arbitration. As a result they won't get any draft pick compensation for him.
Wheeler began his career with the Rays, then after stints with the Braves, Mets and Astros returned in a July 2007 trade for Ty Wigginton. Wheeler's 419 appearances since the start of the 2005 season are the thirs most in the majors behind Chad Qualls (another Rays free agent), 435, and Cincinnati's Francisco Cordero, 424.
Wheeler made 258 appearances for the Rays, just shy of Esteban Yan's franchise record of 266.
Here is an update on the Rays seven free agent relievers:
Joaquin Benoit, signed with Detroit ($16.5M, 3 years)
Randy Choate, signed with Florida ($2.5M, 2 years)
Dan Wheeler, signed with Boston ($3M, 1 year plus option)
Rafael Soriano, unsigned, seeking large multiyear deal
Grant Balfour, unsigned, seeking multiyear deal
Chad Qualls, unsigned
Lance Cormier, unsigned
The Rays get compensation-round draft picks for Benoit and Choate. They would get two draft picks each for Soriano and Balfour, and a compensation round pick for Qualls.