In close call, Fuld picks A's over returning to Rays
OF Sam Fuld never wanted to leave the Rays.
But after being non-tendered in December and wading through months of uncertainty as a free agent, he decided Tuesday - finally - to pass on returning to the Rays on a minor-league deal and instead took a similar offer in Oakland.
"Maybe it's my tendency to analyze, and possibly over-analyze, but it was such a complex decision,'' Fuld said.
Fuld, 32, has no guarantee of making the A's big-league roster without someone getting hurt, but said he felt he would have a slightly better opportunity than with the Rays.
In Oakland, he'll get an $800,000 salary (plus up to another $100,000 for games played) plus he'll have two windows, in March and on June 1, to opt-out of his deal to pursue a big-league spot elsewhere.
"Certainly opportunity to play in the big leagues was the No. 1 driving factor,'' he said. "But there were other variables involved, too. Something I learned going through the process is the importance of having opt-out opportunities, and that played a key role in it. It's no secret that Oakland is essentially a carbon copy of the Rays in many ways on the west coast, so it's not surprising that they showed interest in me and I share that sort of mutual respect to them. I feel like ultimately you want to go somewhere where they are going to appreciate you the most and they are going to understand your value the most, and I feel like Oakland was right up there with Tampa Bay in terms of how they value me and how they appreciate what I bring to the table.
"By no means was it an easy decision. And that's evident in that it's Feb. 4th when I finally made a decision.''
With the Rays, Fuld would have been competing for the final roster spot with OF Brandon Guyer, who is out of options, plus rookie OF Kevin Kiermaier and several veterans who similarly will be in camp on non-roster deals, such as Wilson Betemit and Jayson Nix. In Oakland, his main competition for a roster spot may be Daric Barton.
Fuld played in 119 games for the Rays last season, hitting .199 with a .537 on-base plus slugging percentage.
Fuld said he feels like he is leaving the Rays on good terms, and acknowledged it was still a possibility of the Rays had a need that he could end up back in Tampa Bay by exercising his opt-out clause.
Actually a case could be made that he made a good decision in going to the A's since he will have a chance to show then - and the other Arizona-based spring teams - what he can do, whereas the Rays are already familiar and don't need to see anything from him.