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Details on Rays deal with Shawn Tolleson

Though overshadowed by the Logan Forsythe-Jose DeLeon trade, the Rays completion of the signing of RHP Shawn Tolleson is a low-cost gamble that could pay off big if he can regain his 2015 form, when he saved 35 games for Texas. Over 2014-15, Tolleson posted a 2.88 ERA while working 137 games, striking out 145 in 144 innings.

The Rays will pay Tolleson a $1-million salary, with the potential for another $1.15 in incentives. Here is a breakdown, terms obtained by the Tampa Bay Times:

35 games: $50,000
40: $75,000
45: $75,000
50: $100,000
55: $150,000
60: $200,000
65: $250,000
70: $250,000

 

 

 

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Nine things to know about new Rays RHP Jose De Leon

Nine things to know about new Rays RHP Jose De Leon, acquired Monday night from the Dodgers:

* Full name Jose Eugenio De Leon, listed at 6-2 and 190, born and raised in Puerto Rico, attended Southern University and A&M College, from where he was a 24th-round draft pick in 2013 and signed for $35,000. That's the same school, per baseball-reference.com, that produced Hall of Famer Lou Brock and Vida Blue among others.

* Dodgers boss Andrew Friedman said to the Times of De Leon: "Jose is a tremendously talented pitching prospect. That part is obvious, but what made it so difficult to include him in this trade is his makeup. That combination gives him a great chance to reach his tremendous potential. He's elite at missing bats and is essentially major league ready."

* MLB Pipeline immediately ranked him as the Rays No. 2 prospect, behind only INF Willy Adames and ahead of pitchers such as RHP Brent Honeywell (No. 3), RHP Jacob Faria (6), and RHP Chih-Wei Hu (7).

* He tweeted after the deal was announced from his @JDL_87 account:
"Can't find the words to thank the @Dodgers, teammates, coaches & fans. NOW.. taking the mission to @RaysBaseball. Beyond excited #OnAMission" …

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Rays trading Forsythe to Dodgers for RHP Jose DeLeon

The Rays have traded 2B Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers for RHP Jose DeLeon.

DeLeon, 24, is considered one of the top pitching prospects in the game, having made four starts for the Dodgers last year.

"We are very excited to add Jose De León to the Rays organization. He's a talented starting pitching prospect who can soon become a key member of our major league rotation," Rays GM Erik Neander said in a statement,. "It's a bittersweet day, though, as we part ways with Logan Forsythe in this trade. He's not only a first-class player, but he's also a great teammate and leader in the clubhouse. We will miss him, and we thank him for all he did as a Ray."

DeLeon is 23-13 with a 3.35 ERA and 446 strikeouts in 330 2/3 innings in 67 minor-league games over four seasons. In 2016, he was 7-1, 2.61 ERA with 111 strikeouts over 86 1/3 innings, a .194 opponents' average and 5.55 strikeouts-to-walks ratio in 16 starts for Triple-A Oklahoma City, though he missed parts of the season with ankle and shoulder injuries.

Neander said on a conference call the opportunity to get DeLeon was too good to pass up. …

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Rays Chris Archer sporting a new look ...

Chris Archer with his former and current hair styles.

WILL VRAGOVIC / TAMPA BAY TIMES

Chris Archer with his former and current hair styles.

Rays RHP Chris Archer is changing his look - for now anyway - swapping his free-flowing hair style for dreadlocks. Archer went to the new style five-six weeks ago, but hasn't decided yet if he'll keep it for the upcoming season. "I'm in the process of getting dreadlocks,'' Archer said. "These are starter dreads.'' Archer said the new look didn't require him to trim his longer locks, so he could return to that look as well: "We'll see.''

 

 

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Reaction from Rays to death of Yordano Ventura

The shocking death of Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, and the earlier death of former big-leaguer Andy Marte, in separate car accidents in the Dominican Republic, drew reaction from throughout the baseball world, including several Rays:

 

My heart breaks for the news of Yordanna Ventura. Lifting up his family this morning to the Lord.

 

 

We join those across the MLB family in mourning today. Our thoughts are with the friends and loved ones of Andy Marte and Yordano Ventura.

 

What a sad day in the baseball world. 2 players gone way too early. Prayers out for the Ventura and Marte families.

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Prairie Home Companion has a Joe Maddon song, and that is all

Winning the World Series has led to immensely increased exposure for the Cubs, including manager Joe Maddon, who worked previously for the Rays and still lives in Tampa.

And the latest example is quite interesting, a song created and performed by NPR's popular Prairie Home Companion crew, called, "We, Joe Maddon." It's not likely to replace "Go Cubs Go" as the fan anthem, but is somewhat catchy.

The folks at mlb.com first noted the video, which actually is tied to Maddon's bullpen decisions, and we present it below. Per PHC's YouTube page, it was their "Song of the Week'' for the Jan. 14 broadcast and was performed by Chris Thile, with Sarah Jarosz, Rich Dworsky, Chris Eldridge, Brittany Haas, Paul Kowert, and Ted Poor.

 

 

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Mahtook surprised by trade, excited by chance to be Tigers CF

Mikie Mahtook goes from battling with newly acquired Mallex Smith for a spot as a reserve with the Rays to the chance to competing for Detroit's starting centerfield job.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Mikie Mahtook goes from battling with newly acquired Mallex Smith for a spot as a reserve with the Rays to the chance to competing for Detroit's starting centerfield job.

OF Mikie Mahtook has been working out in preparation for another spring training with the Rays in Port Charlotte, already set to share a rental home with Brad Miller and Curt Casali, when he got the surprising news Wednesday that he'd been traded to the Tigers.

"Weird is probably a good way to describe it,'' Mahtook said Thursday from Detroit. "I Was not expecting it. Obviously I had no idea it was coming. I wasn't anticipating anything. I was just going about my off-season like I normally do, getting ready for spring training. Then I got the phone call. And then it got really weird.''

As much as being traded can create logistical issues, it can also present opportunity.

For Mahtook, that means going from battling with newly acquired Mallex Smith for a spot as a reserve with the Rays to the chance to compete for Detroit's starting centerfield job. …

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Rays keep same game times for 2017

The Rays 2017 schedule.

TAMPA BAY RAYS

The Rays 2017 schedule.

The Rays announced their 2017 game times, with the same framework they had last year - most weekday games at 7:10, Saturday games at 4:10 or 6:10, Sunday games at 1:10.

There are a few exceptions, including seven weekday matinees, most on days when they are headed out of town after the game:

Thursday 4/10 vs. Tigers, 1:10
Thursday 5/11 vs. Royals, 1:10
Thursday 5/25 vs. Angels, 1:10
Wednesday 6/21 vs. Reds 12:10
Wednesday 7/26 vs. Orioles 12:10
Thursday 8/24 vs. Blue Jays 1:10.
Wednesday 9/6 vs, Twins 1:10

Also of note, the Rays on June 10 will host MLB's first scheduled DH since 2011, when they host the A's with a 2:10 first pitch, and a single admission for both games.

The Rays play what is actually the first game of the entire major-league schedule with they open against the Yankees on Sunday, April 2, with a 1:10 first pitch.

 

 

 

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New Hall of Famer Raines once eyed Gators football career

Tim Raines poses for a photograph after a TV interview Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in Goodyear, Ariz. shortly after being elected to baseball's Hall of Fame. Raines, fifth in career stolen bases, was a seven-time All-Star and the 1986 NL batting champion.

Associated Press

Tim Raines poses for a photograph after a TV interview Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in Goodyear, Ariz. shortly after being elected to baseball's Hall of Fame. Raines, fifth in career stolen bases, was a seven-time All-Star and the 1986 NL batting champion.

Tim Raines could have been a Florida Gator running back rather than one of baseball's newest Hall of Famers.

Starring in football and baseball at Sanford's Seminole High, while also running track, Raines wasn't sure which sport to pursue. Drafted in the fifth round by the Montreal Expos as a switch-hitting shortstop in 1977, he decided to give baseball a chance first.

"When this journey first started, I wasn't really sure baseball was the sport I should have chosen,'' Raines said on a Hall conference call Wednesday night. "I figured I would start out at a young age and see if I was good enough to stay in baseball. I was going to give myself actually two years. Give myself two years, see what happened. If things worked out I would continue to play baseball. If things didn't work out I was going to walk on at the University of Florida and play football.

"My dream as a kid was to be in the NFL. Fortunately, that didn't work out. And, thank God, baseball ended up being the sport that I chose.'' …

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Bagwell, Raines, Pudge Rodriguez elected to Baseball Hall

Tim Raines' road from Sanford to the major leagues will now take him to Cooperstown, as the longtime outfielder was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his 10th and final year of eligibility.

Jeff Bagwell, a longtime star with the Astros, and Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, who redefined the catching position with his defensive skills, also received the necessary 75 percent of the votes to be inducted.

Just missing out was reliever Trevor Hoffman, who fell five votes short of the 332 needed.

Also of note was the 10 percent increase in votes for two players considered the poster boys of the "steroids era,'' as Barry Bonds' total went up to 53.8 and Roger Clemens to 54.1.

Two Tampa products on the ballot didn't move much, with Fred McGriff getting 21.7 percent and Gary Sheffield 13.3.

 

 

 

 

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Rays trade Mahtook to Tigers for cash/player to be named

Needing to clear space on their 40-man roster, the Rays on Wednesday traded OF Mikie Mahtook to the Tigers for cash or a player to be named later.

Mahtook, a first-round pick in the Rays mostly-disappointing 2011 draft class, played parts of the last two seasons in the majors.

As impressive as Mahtook was during his 2015 debut, he was disappointing last season, struggling and missing time with injuries. Overall, he hit .195 with 3 homers and 11 RBIs over 65 games, making 50 starts between the three positions.

The Rays need to make room on the 40-man roster to add free agent OF Colby Rasmus and RHP Shawn Tolleson, whose free-agent signings should be made official soon. Mahtook's role on the team was diminished with the acquisition of Mallex Smith in trade.

 

 

 

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It's Hall of Fame day, and we take a closer look at the candidates

Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell had seven 100-run/100-RBI seasons, won an MVP award (plus five other top-10 finishes) and was the 1991 Rookie of the Year.

Associated Press

Astros first baseman Jeff Bagwell had seven 100-run/100-RBI seasons, won an MVP award (plus five other top-10 finishes) and was the 1991 Rookie of the Year.

Today is Hall of Fame day, with the announcement of this year's election set for 6 p.m. on MLB Network.

Based on 235-plus released ballots, roughly half the total, it looks like OF Tim Raines, enjoying a bump of support in his final year of eligibility, and 1B Jeff Bagwell will receive the required 75 percent needed for election. Closer Trevor Hoffman and C Ivan Rodriguez, in his first year on the ballot, look to be close calls, and potentially OF Vlad Guerrero as well.

But almost as important as who gets in will be the expected rise in support for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the "poster boys" for the steroids era, who project to make big jumps to the 65 percent range, raising the possibilty of election in the near term.


Here is my ballot, followed by some thoughts on players I did and didn't vote for:


Jeff Bagwell
Barry Bonds
Roger Clemens
Trevor Hoffman
Fred McGriff
Tim Raines
Ivan Rodriguez
Gary Sheffield
Lee Smith

x-Jeff Bagwell
Complete player with seven 100-run/100-RBI seasons, MVP award (plus five other top-10 finishes), Rookie of the Year, Gold Glove. …

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Video: Winter development camp a hit for Rays prospects

The Rays have 25 of their top prospects - including RHP Brent Honeywell and INFs Willy Adames and Daniel Robertson - at the Trop this week for the 8th annual winter development camp. Here is a video report from photographer Will Vragovic.

 

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Rays adding to bullpen, close to signing Shawn Tolleson

Shawn Tolleson saved 35 games for the Rangers in 2015 but struggled through a rough 2016 season.

AP photo

Shawn Tolleson saved 35 games for the Rangers in 2015 but struggled through a rough 2016 season.

The Rays are making a move to bolster their bullpen as they are close to finalizing a deal with RHP Shawn Tolleson, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.

Tolleson, 29 on Thursday, saved 35 games for the Rangers in 2015 but struggled through a rough 2016 season, losing his closer's job, getting sent to the minors, being sidelined with a back injury and then dropped from the roster.

He elected free agency, and chose to join the Rays over several options, which included going back to Texas.

Tolleson's 2016 season was not pretty, as he went 2-2, 7.68 with 11 saves. But in 2015, he was 6-4, 2.99 with 35 saves in 37 chances over 73 games with 76 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings. That after going 3-1, 2.76 in 2014 as a setup man working 64 games.

Tolleson is considered healthy and if he can regain form would add some experience to a bullpen anchored by Alex Colome, Brad Boxberger and Xavier Cedeno.

 

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Rays have 26 top prospects at Trop for development camp

Spring training is still a month away, but the Rays have 26 of their top prospects at the Trop this week for a four-day winter development camp. The players will get on the football-lined field for some baseball work, but also will participate in discussions and receive guidance on training, media relations and other issues, and make several community appearances. There also will be a media interview session on Tuesday.

Among the bigger names particiapting are INF Willy Adames, their top position prospect; RHP Brent Honeywell, the quick-rising starter prospect; INF Lucius Fox, who was acquired from the Giants in the Matt Moore deal; INF Daniel Robertson, another top advanced prospect; RHP Kevin Gadea, the Rule 5 draft pick from Seattle; and OFs Josh Lowe and Garrett Whitley, their last two first-round draft picks.

Here is the full list:

Player, position
Fernando Baez, RHP
Genesis Cabrera, LHP
Diego Castillo, RHP
Austin Franklin, RHP
Kevin Gadea, RHP
Ian Gibaut, RHP
Brent Honeywell, RHP
Chih-Wei Hu RHP
Huntet Wood, RHP

Chris Betts, C
Zac Law, C
Brett Sullivan, C …

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