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Rays add to bullpen options with Rule 5 pick Kevin Gadea

The Rays added a candidate for a spot in their bullpen, selecting RHP Kevin Gadea from the Mariners in today's Rule 5 draft.

Gadea, 22, has only pitched as high as the Class A level, but the Rays believe the converted infielder has a chance to make the big jump to the big leagues, as he has to stay on the roster.

"Our scouts saw him really good and we're excited to add him,'' Rays director of baseball development Peter Bendix said. "We saw him well throughout the season. He missed a lot of bats. We think he has a chance to help us in the bullpen. We'll take him into spring training and kind of see what we have. He's a young guy and there's a lot of long-term potential there.''

Gadea, primarily a fastball-changeup pitcher, was a combined 4-1, 2.36 in 15 games between the Mariners rookie-league team in Arizona and the Clinton team in the Midwest League. He was an infielder in his native Nicaragua and signed in Nov. 2012 as a pitcher.

The Rays paid $100,000 to take him and have to keep him in the majors all season, or offer him back to the Mariners and then put him through waivers. …

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Lobbying report: Thursday at baseball's D.C. winter meetings

It's the most wonderful time of the year - if you like rumors, speculation, jumped-to conclusions and, undoubtedly, some outright fabrications about your baseball team and favorite players. That being said, we'll filter as best we can and present some of the chatter we're hearing in the hallways, media room and, of course, the late-night lobby during this week's winter meetings. Though there are high expectations for lots of action, be warned that the running joke has been that since the meetings are being held just outside Washington, D.C. that nothing likely will get done here.

The big event today is the Rule 5 draft, where teams can take players left off 40-man rosters for $100,000 (up from $50K) but have to keep them in the majors all year.

The Rays have the No, 4 pick, an open roster spot and some needs, so they are in position to make a pick. But they also need a spot to add C Wilson Ramos, whose signing is set to become official. …

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Yankees bring back fireballing closer Aroldis Chapman

The Yankees re-signed fireballing closer Aroldis Chapman.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

The Yankees re-signed fireballing closer Aroldis Chapman.

The Yankees got the man they wanted, and made life tougher for the Rays and the rest of the AL East, re-signing fireballing closer Aroldis Chapman.

The deal, reported by multiple outlets, is worth $86-million over five years, with no-trade protection in the first three.

The Yankees traded Chapman in July for a package of top prospects from the Cubs, who he helped to the World Series title.

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Rays' Cash on throwbacks for Sale, Ramos, a speedy OF, more

Rays manager Kevin Cash, at baseball's winter meetings.

MARC TOPKIN | Times

Rays manager Kevin Cash, at baseball's winter meetings.

Rays manager Kevin Cash had his winter meetings media session early this morning, and while he couldn't say much about any moves the Rays have made (reaching agreement with C Wilson Ramos, pending a physical) or may make (adding an OF, trading a P), he did have a pretty good line about the Red Sox acquiring ace LHP Chris Sale.

Playing off the incident last year in Chicago when Sale refused to wear - and actually cut up - a White Sox throwback jersey, and ended up getting disciplined, Cash said the Sale trade could be a good thing for the Rays:

"Our marketing dept. can now figure out when to do throwback jersey day. So we're good.''

Here are some of the other things Cash said:

* On Ramos, noting he had to be vague and speak hypothetically since the deal was not official: …

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Lobbying report: Wednesday at baseball's DC winter meetings

It appeared late Tuesday former Rays pitcher Wade Davis was headed to the Cubs in exchange for outfielder Jorge Soler.

AP photo

It appeared late Tuesday former Rays pitcher Wade Davis was headed to the Cubs in exchange for outfielder Jorge Soler.

It's the most wonderful time of the year - if you like rumors, speculation, jumped-to conclusions and, undoubtedly, some outright fabrications about your baseball team and favorite players. That being said, we'll filter as best we can and present some of the chatter we're hearing in the hallways, media room and, of course, the late-night lobby during this week's winter meetings. Though there are high expectations for lots of action, be warned that the running joke has been that since the meetings are being held just outside Washington, D.C. that nothing likely will get done here.

UPDATES

* The Cubs and Royals completed the trade, with Davis taking over as the closer in Chicago.

* The Rockies have agreed to a deal with Ian Desmond, who will get a reported $70-million over five years to play first base.

* The Cubs deal for Davis is considered to be on track, but not yet complete.

* The Marlins signed LHP Jeff Locke, formerly with the Pirates.

* As far as the starting pitching market on which the Rays had several to offer, the Nationals are saying they were interested only in Chris Sale not any other starters, while the White Sox are further adding to the market by now offering Jose Quintana. …

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Red Sox land Chris Sale

The Red Sox landed All-Star pitcher Chris Sale.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

The Red Sox landed All-Star pitcher Chris Sale.

Life in the AL East just got tougher for the Rays with the Red Sox landing All-Star LHP Chris Sale. 

The trade, according to multiple reports, cost the Sox top prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech and two others (OF Luis Alexander Basabe, RHP Victor Diaz).

The Red Sox now have a rotation that includes Sale, the Lakeland product, plus Cy Young Award winners David Price and Rick Porcello.

The deal could also impact the trade market for the Rays starters, as they have yet to have to have any team meet their understandably high price for Chris Archer.

To this point, most of the interest has been in RHP Alex Cobb and LHP Drew Smyly, who are available at a lower cost because they come with less control.

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Rays re-sign radio man Andy Freed to 3-year deal

There is news of a signing by the Rays this morning, as radio broadcaster Andy Freed has agreed to new a three-year deal that will keep him behind the mic through 2019.

Freed and partner Dave Wills joined the Rays in 2005.

Wills is signed through the 2017 season.

 

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Lobbying report: Tuesday at baseball's winter meetings

Marc Topkin wonders if the intense level of discussion about White Sox ace LHP Chris Sale is impacting the market for starters overall.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Marc Topkin wonders if the intense level of discussion about White Sox ace LHP Chris Sale is impacting the market for starters overall.

It's the most wonderful time of the year - if you like rumors, speculation, jumped-to conclusions and, undoubtedly, some outright fabrications about your baseball team and favorite players. That being said, we'll filter as best we can and present some of the chatter we're hearing in the hallways, media room and, of course, the late-night lobby during this week's winter meetings. Though there are high expectations for lots of action, be warned that the running joke has been that since the meetings are being held just outside Washington, D.C. that nothing likely will get done here:

* The Rays typically prefer to stay out of the headlines and rumor mills, so the lack of much chatter during the day Monday was not a suprose, and likely by design. But I also wonder if the intense level of discussion about White Sox ace LHP Chris Sale, primarily it seems with the Nationals, is impacting the market for starters overall. Not so much that RHP Chris Archer or RHP Jake Odorizzi is considered on even par with Sale, but that teams interested in Sale, and teams waiting to see who gets Sale, may be focused more on that.

* There doesn't seem to be a clear leader for C Wellington Castillo, in whom the Rays have strong interest. …

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Manfred: There has to be "end game" in Rays stadium bid or ...

Rob Manfred did not set any deadlines or issue any ultimatums, but said that at some point if there is no progress on a Rays stadium, the potential of relocation would have to be raised.

AP photo

Rob Manfred did not set any deadlines or issue any ultimatums, but said that at some point if there is no progress on a Rays stadium, the potential of relocation would have to be raised.

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred has been saying for months that he is optimistic Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg will be able to get a new stadium and that if so the franchise can be successful in the Tampa Bay market.

But Monday - while stopping well short of a threat - Manfred said there eventually has to be some action.

Manfred, during a Q-and-A session at the George Washington University School of Business, did not set any deadlines or issue any ultimatums, but said that at some point if there is no progress the potential of relocation would have to be raised. …

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Selig 'optimistic' Sternberg, Rays can find solution in market

Bud Selig remains confident the Rays under principal owner Stuart Sternberg can resolve their stadium situation in the Tampa Bay market.

AP photo

Bud Selig remains confident the Rays under principal owner Stuart Sternberg can resolve their stadium situation in the Tampa Bay market.

Former commissioner and new Hall of Famer Bud Selig said Monday he remains confident the Rays under principal owner Stuart Sternberg can resolve their stadium situation in the Tampa Bay market and be successful.

"I have faith Stu is really determined to work something out and I think he will,'' Selig said. "I'm actually optimistic that he will."

Sternberg and the Rays have been looking at sites in both Tampa and St. Petersburg, with the expectation of narrowing the field before the start of next season.

Selig said the Rays faced a less complicated situation than in Oakland, where the A's have also have to navigate around the Giants territorial rights and influence in trying to get a new stadium.

"(Tampa Bay) that's a little different because I think Stu and I always agreed,'' Selig said.

In October, current commissioner Rob Manfred told the Times he remained "positive about the prospects for a stadium derivative of the fact that Stu is positive about the prospects."

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Rays Alex Cobb changes agents, signs on with BHSC

Alex Cobb is expected to be ready for a full season with the Rays, though his pending free agency could led them to trade him.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Alex Cobb is expected to be ready for a full season with the Rays, though his pending free agency could led them to trade him.

Heading into his final season before free agency, Rays RHP Alex Cobb has changed agents, signing on with the Beverly Hills Sports Council. Cobb had been with New York-based ACES, led by the Levinson brothers.

"I really don't like the business side of baseball, but I thought this would be the best fit for my family and I on and off the field,'' Cobb told the Tampa Bay Times. "I do want to thank ACES for everything they've done for me in the past and look forward to my time with BHSC.''

Cobb, 29, was discussing a long-term deal with the Rays when he hurt his elbow during spring training 2015 resulting in Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss all of that seasoon and much of 2016, returning in September.

Cobb is expected to be ready for a full season with the Rays, though his pending free agency could led them to trade him during - or even before - the season.

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Lobbying report: Monday at baseball's DC winter meetings

Marc Topkin is not convinced the Rays will trade pitcher Chris Archer.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Marc Topkin is not convinced the Rays will trade pitcher Chris Archer.

It's the most wonderful time of the year - if you like rumors, speculation, jumped-to conclusions and, undoubtedly, some outright fabrications about your baseball team and favorite players. That being said, we'll filter as best we can and present some of the chatter we're hearing in the hallways, media room and, of course, the late-night lobby during this week's winter meetings. Though there are high expectations for lots of action, be warned that the running joke has been that since the meetings are being held just outside Washington, D.C. that nothing likely will get done here: …

Full Story

Rays likely to tender all 11 arbitration-eligible players

The Rays are expected to tender contracts by tonight's 8 p.m. deadline to their MLB-most 11 players eligible for arbitration.

That group includes three who qualified under the Super 2 provision based on service-time, which teams sometimes try to manipulate by limiting call-ups early in player's career - RHP Danny Farquhar, INF Tim Beckham and OF Kevin Kiermaier.

Kiermaier, with 2 years and 131 days service, was believed to be right at the cutoff, which includes the top 20 percent of the players with 2-3 years service. As a result, he and the others get to be eligible for arbitration four times rather than the standard three.

Teams have until 8 p.m. tonight to decide, with the players who are non-tendered becoming free agents. With needs for relievers, a catcher and an outfielder/DH and free-agent prices high, the Rays may benefit from the additional inventory, or even be able to make a trade today to get a player who otherwise would be let go elsewhere. …

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Silverman: Rays "disappointed" at lack of small-market help in CBA

Tampa Bay Rays president of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman talks with reporters during a pre-Winter Meetings luncheon held at Tropicana Field on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Tampa Bay Rays president of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman talks with reporters during a pre-Winter Meetings luncheon held at Tropicana Field on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016.

Full details of the new collective bargaining agreement are still being finalized and distributed, but Rays baseball operations president Matt Silverman said they haven't particularly liked what they've heard in terms of getting help to close the gap in competitive balance. …

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MLB, union facing midnight deadline for new labor deal

Major League Baseball, despite immense industry-wide profits, could be hours away from its first labor shutdown in more than 20 years.

After an all-night session Tuesday near Dallas, negotiators for the owners and players union will resume talks today spurred by the urgency of the midnight expiration of the current deal - and to save what is nearly a $10-billion industry enjoying immense popularity following the Cubs World Series win from damaging itself.

If they don't reach agreement, the owners have said they are willing to impose a lockout, which while sounding ominous wouldn't initially have much major impact from the fans' perspective except to stop off-season signings and trades and render next week's winter meetings basically moot. (There are other implications we'll get back to shortly.)

Another option, one already being talked about, is that assuming there is reasonable progress toward a deal to negotiate an extension to the current agreement, allowing talks to continue for a few more hours, days, even weeks.

Unlike past labor battles, there is not one key divisive issue in these talks, instead a combination of smaller points that have created a divide. …

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