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Former Cuban star Juan Miranda signs with Tampa Bay Rays, could get look at first base

DALLAS — The Rays are working on multiple scenarios via trades and free-agent signings to bolster their offense and fill holes at first base and DH.

But in the unlikely event none were to come to fruition this offseason — with nothing close as of Tuesday night, anyway — they have at least an interesting backup plan, with the signing of Juan Miranda to a minor-league contract with a spring training invite.

"Extreme power," Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said.

Miranda, a 28-year-old from Cuba, has spent most of his five pro seasons at Triple A but has big-league time with the Yankees (2008-10) and Diamondbacks (2011). He hit 67 homers in 457 minor-league games (with a .277 average) and 11 in 111 big-league games (with a .226 average), though seven in 65 for Arizona in 2011.

"He's got some real carrying strengths that we feel like give him a chance to be a productive major-league player; obviously the standard at that position is higher than other positions," Friedman said. "(He) will either compete for a job depending on how the rest of the winter shakes out or be very high on the depth charge in the event of injury."

The Rays also signed INF Matt Mangini, who had some big-league time with Seattle in 2010; and RHPs Jhonny Nunez (White Sox, '09) and Ricky Orta (returning from injury).

Friedman had a busy second day at the winter meetings and said they were "talking to a number of offensive players." But with nothing imminent, it would appear Monday's pursuit of free-agent OF/DH Josh Willingham had at least stalled and that the Rays were not sitting on any trade offers they were ready to accept without further talks.

The Reds and Royals appear to be good trade matches, as well as the Marlins, who if they sign Albert Pujols would seem likely to move All-Star 1B Gaby Sanchez, with RHP Wade Davis a potential target.

There was another round of chatter about the Nationals' longstanding — and unsuccessful — quest for Rays CF B.J. Upton, but no progress. While Friedman wouldn't comment, Washington GM Mike Rizzo told reporters, "I don't think anything has changed."

Also, the Rays will be among the teams scouting free-agent reliever Joel Zumaya at his workout next week; are not the mystery team that bid on Japanese free agent INF Hiroyuki Nakajima; were not among the teams that job-seeking free agent Manny Ramirez supposedly personally called; won't likely re-sign free-agent RHP Juan Cruz; and don't plan many changes to their minor-league coaching staffs.

RED ALERT: Pujols had reported offers for $200-plus million over 10 years from at least the Marlins and Cardinals and was said to be nearing a decision. … DH David Ortiz is reportedly set to rejoin the Red Sox by agreeing to accept arbitration (and a raise from $12.5 million) by tonight's deadline. … The Jays added a closer by acquiring RHP Sergio Santos (30 saves, 3.55 ERA) from the White Sox for RHP prospect Nestor Molina. … The Twins traded RHP Kevin Slowey to Colorado for a player to be named. … RHPs Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco agreed to terms with the Mets, who also traded OF Angel Pagan to the Giants for OF Andres Torres and RHP Ramon Ramirez.

MISCELLANY: The BBWAA voted to televise the announcement of its major awards for the first time, starting in 2012 on the MLB Network. … Toronto Sun writer Bob Elliott was elected to the Hall of Fame.

Former Cuban star Juan Miranda signs with Tampa Bay Rays, could get look at first base 12/06/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 11:59pm]
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