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Cubs to talk about hiring former Rays coach Dave Martinez

The possibility of Dave Martinez joining Joe Maddon in Chicago is quite real.

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said on Chicago radio today that team officials will talk soon with Maddon about hiring his longtime bench coach, who said Tuesday he would not stay with the Rays after being eliminated from the field of candidates to replace Maddon.

"We're going to talk to Joe about it,'' Hoyer said on WGWG's "Kap and Haugh" show."Obviously, (Maddon) had a great relationship with Davey. We've talked about him in the past, how strongly he feels about him and what he did for him and trying to replicate that. Obviously now that he's available, (team president Theo Epstein) and I really enjoyed our sit-down with him last year during the manager hiring process.

"It's something we'll talk to Joe about. We haven't talked to him yet, but we'll certainly talk to him in the coming days now that  he's available."

Maddon left the Rays last month and signed a five-year deal in Chicago. Though the Cubs have a full complement of coaches, they have not announced a staff so it's possible Martinez - who played for the Cubs, and interviewed last winter for their manager's job - could be added. …

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Rays designate Sean Rodriguez, sign reliever Ernesto Frieri

UPDATE, 2:42: With Tuesday the deadline to tender contracts, Rays would have only until then to work out a deal to trade Rodriguez rather than the full 10 days.

UPDATE, 1:50: The news caught Rodriguez off guard.

"I was definitely surprised,'' Rodriguez said. "I thought with the Rays I was wanted and going to stay for a while. It's just the nature of the business, I guess.''

Rodriguez said he assumed his salary was the issue but the Rays didn't provide much detail.

"This sucks right now, but I feel like it may be an opportunity,'' he said. "What I bring to the table (in terms of versatility) is something a lot of teams like and want to have more of.''

Here is more from the Rays on Frieri: …

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Triple-A pitching coach Neil Allen officially hired by Twins

After four years as the Rays Triple-A pitching coach, Neil Allen was officially hired Tuesday to join the Twins big-league staff.

Allen, 56, has been in the Rays organization for eight seasons overall, and earned raves at all levels.

"We are sad to lose a great coach and a great person, but are happy for him for this outstanding opportunity,'' Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics said.

The Rays haven't said yet what they are going to do to replace Allen, though they would appear to have several strong internal candidates including R.C. Lichtenstein, who has been at Double-A Montgomery, and Kyle Snyder, who was a coordinator last season after three seasons coaching at Class A levels.

This will be Allen's first major-league pitching coach job, though he did spent the 2005 as the Yankees bullpen coach. He pitched 11 seasons in the majors.

"I think I'm very well groomed and ready for this opportunity,'' he told Twins reporters. "I've been a pitching coach for 20 years now."

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Passed over in manager race, Dave Martinez will leave Rays

Longtime bench coach Dave Martinez announced today he will leave the Rays organization and consider other options.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

Longtime bench coach Dave Martinez announced today he will leave the Rays organization and consider other options.

After being passed over as a candidate to replace Joe Maddon, longtime bench coach Dave Martinez announced today he will leave the Rays organization and consider other options.

In a statement, Martinez said:

"I informed the Rays this week that I have chosen to move forward and consider other opportunities that may present themselves outside the organization.  It was a hard decision that I think is best for myself and the Rays.  I want to thank our fans for their overwhelming support. It has meant the world to my family and me. For the past nine years, the players and staff have been an extension of my family and the memories that we have all shared and the relationships that have been built will stay with me forever.  I can't thank them enough for all they have meant to me."

Martinez is signed for 2015, and the Rays would be obligated to pay him, though typically in those cases that can be adjusted if he takes another job.

Martinez has declined comment since the Rays on Friday announced that he was no longer being considered for the job as they named Kevin Cash, Raul Ibanez and Don Wakamatsu as finalists. Several friends who spoke with him described him as very disappointed. …

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Rays will continue Thanksmas events in Tampa Bay area

Joe Maddon won't be cooking or serving the food this year, but the Rays will continue the Thanksmas program providing meals to needy residents throughout the Tampa Bay area and expanding into Orlando.

Meals will be served the week of Dec. 15-19 at Salvation Army shelters in St. Petersburg, Tampa and Bradenton; the Sallie House in St. Petersburg;  the Homeless Emergency Project in Clearwater; and the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida in Orlando.

Over the past eight years, around 7,000 individuals received meals through the Thanksmas program, and many were also provided clothes or shoes. Plus, through fundraising events and donations from Rays fans, the program generated donations in excess of $20,000 to the Tampa Bay area sites.

Current and former Rays players, coaches, broadcasters and front office staff will serve meals this year. Maddon, who left the team in October and signed with the Cubs, plans to hold a fundraising event in Tampa as well.

 

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Rays place Jose Molina, Cole Figueroa on release waivers

The Rays placed C Jose Molina and INF Cole Figueroa on release waivers Monday, the last step before they become free agents.

Molina and Figueroa were designated for assignment last week as the Rays needed to open spots on their 40-man roster.

Assuming they clear waivers on Wednesday they will become free agents and can sign anywhere.

Players can be claimed for $1 off release waivers, but have to go on the 40-man roster and their contracts have to be assumed, which in Molina's case is for $2.75-million, which otherwise the Rays would be responsible for. A player can also refuse the claim and opt for free agency, but would forfeit his salary.

Molina has been the backup catcher for the last three seasons; Figueroa made his major-league debut last season.

 

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Tampa's Gary Sheffield joins crowded Hall of Fame ballot

The full Hall of Fame ballot

The full Hall of Fame ballot


Tampa's Gary Sheffield is one of an impressive half-dozen new additions to the baseball Hall of Fame ballot, which was released Monday.

Sheffield hit 509 home runs (25th alltime) during a 22-season career, hitting 20 or more 14 times, and won a batting title and a World Series.

Other new additions are Cy Young Award winners Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, plus slugger Carlos Delgado, infielder Nomar Garciaparra and closer Troy Percival, a former Ray.

Top returnees to the ballot include Craig Biggio, who fell two votes shy of election last year, plus Mike Piazza,  Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.

Percival is one of three former Rays on the ballot, joining newcomer Cliff Floyd and returnee Fred McGriff.

Results of the voting will be announced Jan. 6

 

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Triple-A pitching coach Neil Allen gets Twins job

  The Rays have lost Triple-A pitching coach Neil Allen to the Twins, who hired him to new manager Paul Molitor's staff, per multiple reports.
    Allen, 56, has been in the Rays organization for eight seasons, the last four in Durham, and has earned raves at all levels.

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Triple-A pitching coach Neil Allen gets Twins job

  The Rays have lost Triple-A pitching coach Neil Allen to the Twins, who hired him to new manager Paul Molitor's staff, per multiple reports.
    Allen, 56, has been in the Rays organization for eight seasons, the last four in Durham, and has earned raves at all levels.

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How Rays 40-man roster looks now

After a busy week of transactions, here is how the Rays 40-man roster looks now:

PITCHERS (20)
Matt Andriese
Chris Archer
Grant Balfour
Jeff Beliveau
Brad Boxberger
Alex Cobb
Alex Colome
Jose Dominguez
Grayson Garvin
Steve Geltz
Brandon Gomes
Nathan Karns
Jake McGee
Mike Montgomery
Matt Moore
Jake Odorizzi
C.J. Riefenhauser
Enny Romero
Drew Smyly
Kirby Yates

CATCHERS (3)
Curt Casali
Ryan Hanigan
Justin O'Conner

INFIELDERS (10)
Tim Beckham
Ryan Brett
Yunel Escobar
Logan Forsythe
Nick Franklin
Hak-Ju Lee
James Loney
Evan Longoria
Sean Rodriguez
Ben Zobrist

OUTFIELDERS (7)

David DeJesus
Brandon Guyer
Desmond Jennings
Matt Joyce
Kevin Kiermaier
Mikie Mahtook
Wil Myers

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Rays manager finalists are Cash, Ibanez and Wakamatsu

Don Wakamatsu, Kevin Cash and Raul Ibanez are the finalists to replace Joe Maddon as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays announced Friday, Nov. 21, 2014.

Don Wakamatsu, Kevin Cash and Raul Ibanez are the finalists to replace Joe Maddon as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays announced Friday, Nov. 21, 2014.

UPDATE, 5:33: Team president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said the decision to leave out Martinez was "especially difficult" but "n the end, we determined that our clubhouse would best benefit from a new voice that will add to our already strong and cohesive culture.''

Martinez did not return text messages and his voicemail was not accepting messages.

UPDATE, 5:18:  The three finalists for the Rays managerial job are Kevin Cash, Raul Ibanez and Don Wakamatsu, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.

Dave Martinez, the longtime bench coach, was eliminated from consideration, along with five others. A sixth, Brewers special assistant Craig Counsell, withdrew his name from consideration.

Cash, 36, is a Tampa native currently working as the Indians bullpen coach. Ibanez, 42, is still technically an active player, having finished last season with the Royals. Wakamatsu, 51, previously managed the Mariners and us currently the Royals bench coach.

An announcement from the team is coming soon.

UPDATE, 2:52: Manny Acta is out of the running, the Times has learned.

UPDATE, 2:15: It sounds like the Rays will trim the field down to three finalists, which obviously can expedite the process. …

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Silverman calls first deal with Friedman "smoothly awkward"

For more than 10 years, Matt Silverman and Andrew Friedman worked side by side with the Rays, transitioning as Stuart Sternberg took ownership and then running the team.

When Friedman left last month for a big bucks deal with the Dodgers, Silverman, who had been team president, took his place as head of baseball operaitons.

And Thursday they worked together in a different way, collaborating on a four-player trade thay sent veteran reliever Joel Peralta and prospect Adam Liberatore to the Dodgers in return for pitchers Joe Dominguez and minor-leaguer Greg Harris.

Silverman said they quickly got down to business, though called the process of negotiating with his close friend "smoothly awkward" as they woerked through the negotiations.

 "When evaluating a deal you often try to put yourself in the other person's shoes,'' Silverman said, "and in this case that wasn't very hard to do.''

Peralta had been a favorite of Friedman's during his time with the Rays. …

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Jose Molina to be dropped from Rays roster

Veteran C Jose Molina will be designated for assignment tonight as the Rays clear space on their 40-man roster, the Times has learned.

Molina, 39, is signed for next season at a salary of $2,75-million, the back end of a two-year, $4.5-million deal. The Rays will have 10 days to work out a trade or release Molina.

He started 70 games last season for the Rays, and played in 80 total, throwing out only 12 of 50 attempted basestealers and hitting .178 with only two extra base hits. His .187 slugging percentage was the lowest for any player with at least 200 plate appearances since 1968, when Ray Oyler posted a .186 for Detroit.

Molina is known for his excellent pitch-framing abiltiies, which results in pitchers getting more strikes called on borderline pitches. He had been with the Rays for three seasons.

 

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AAA pitching coach Allen a Twins candidate, Longoria homers in Japan

As the Rays sort through their 40-man roster decisions today and plan to cut the field of managerial candidates on Friday, here are some other news items:

* Triple-A pitching coach Neil Allen, who draws raves from the players for his work, is a finalist for the Twins pitching coach job, where he would join new manager Paul Molitor, according to the Star-Tribune. Allen was a candidate previously for the Phillies job. The other finalist is reportedly Carl Willis.

* 3B Evan Longoria returned to the lineup for the MLB team and homered in the exhibition finale to the 10-day tour of Japan. Longoria had left the last game after being hit on the left forearm by a pitch, though the Rays said it was only a bruise. LHP Jeff Beliveau was also injured on the tour, shut down from further action after sustaining a mild lat strain on Saturday. INF/OF Ben Zobrist was also part of the MLB team.

* As for the manager derby, the Rays are expected to trim the field on Friday and bring in a thus-far-undisclosed number of candidates for in-depth face to face interviews. That makes it now unlikely a final decision will be made until after Thanksgiving. …

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Rays face midnight deadline for 40-man roster decisions

Having spent much of the week focused on best manipulating their 40-man roster, the Rays have until midnight tonight to make their final decisions.

Those decisions are multi-tiered, starting with these two simple questions:

* How many additions need to be made from the half-dozen or so promising prospects they consider vulnerable to be taken in the December Rule 5 draft?

* With only two spots open, how can they best create more room now, through trades to get some return or by designating for assignment players they could lose for nothing?

First it would seem the Rays have to decide how many of the prospects really are at risk of being taken in the Rule 5, which requires the selecting team (in exchange for a bargain $50,000 fee) to keep them in the majors all season long. Obviously that seems like a reach for many of the players, and many end up being returned (or even sometimes later "acquired" via trade) but some teams find ways to make it work in order to hang on to a talented player.

The main prospects the Rays would seem to be considering are C Justin O'Conner, OF Mikie Mahtook, RHP Matt Andriese and LHP Adam Liberatore. …

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