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Not in the Tampa Bay Rays' plans, Jonny Gomes becomes a free agent

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays made outfielder Jonny Gomes a free agent Friday by declining to tender him a contract by the midnight deadline.

The Rays will save the approximate $1.5-million salary Gomes would have gotten in the arbitration process, but the decision was as much about him not fitting into their plans as a part-time DH and reserve outfielder who struggled to adjust to occasional playing time.

Gomes, 28, hit just .182 with eight homers, 21 RBIs and 46 strikeouts in 77 games last season, and he was not nearly as effective against left-handers (hitting .182 with nine extra base-hits in 99 at-bats) as in previous seasons.

The Rays have five remaining players eligible for arbitration, and the hefty raises that typically come with the process: infielders Willy Aybar and Jason Bartlett, reliever Grant Balfour, outfielder Gabe Gross and catcher Dioner Navarro.

Burnett goes to Yanks

NEW YORK — The Yankees reeled in another pitcher with a rich offer, reaching agreement with free-agent right-hander A.J. Burnett on a five-year contract.

ESPN.com and FoxSports.com reported the deal was worth $82.5-million, and Burnett's agreement was confirmed by the office of his agent, Darek Braunecker. Burnett, 31, needs to take a physical before it is complete.

LHP CC Sabathia and the Yankees made a deal for $161-million over seven years Wednesday.

Burnett won 10 of his last 12 decisions and finished 18-10 with a 4.07 ERA for Toronto. He set career highs in wins, strikeouts (231) and innings (2211/3).

Mets-Diamondbacks: The Mets traded LHP Scott Schoeneweis, 35, to Arizona. Schoeneweis went 0-3 with a blown save and a 5.40 ERA in September as the Mets collapsed down the stretch for the second straight year. New York agreed to pay $1.6-million of his $3.6-million salary for 2009 and acquired RHP Connor Robertson. Robertson, who came to Arizona in the Dan Haren deal with Oakland, was 0-1 with a 5.14 ERA in six games.

Astros: Third baseman Ty Wigginton, traded to Houston by the Rays in 2007, became a free agent when the Astros decided not to tender him a contract for 2009.

Cubs: Right-hander Chad Gaudin, a former Ray (2003-04), agreed to a one-year, $2-million deal, avoiding salary arbitration.

Diamondbacks: Free-agent infielder Felipe Lopez signed a one-year deal for a reported $3.5-million, filling the spot left when second baseman Orlando Hudson became a free agent.

Nationals: Outfielder Willie Harris, 30, agreed to a two-year, $3-million deal, while the team did not tender a contract to right-hander Tim Redding, the only pitcher to win 10 games for the team last season.

Phillies: Free agent Raul Ibanez, 36, agreed to a three-year deal believed to be worth $30-million, pending a physical, ESPN.com reported. Ibanez, whom the Rays had been considering, will become the new everyday leftfielder, and his signing means the Phillies no longer will pursue free agent Pat Burrell.

Pirates: Utility infielder Ramon Vazquez signed a $4-million, two-year contract after batting a career-high .290 for the Rangers this past season. Vazquez can play all four infield positions. The Pirates also added former Cubs minor-league pitcher of the year Donnie Veal, a left-hander, in the Rule 5 draft and lost left-hander Kyle Bloom to Detroit.

Reds: Lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes, 39, agreed to a $4-million, two-year deal. The 16-year veteran went 4-1 with a 2.04 ERA and two saves last season for Seattle and Florida.

Off to Puerto Rico: Yankees All-Star centerfielder Bernie Williams, who never announced his retirement after he was let go in 2006, is expected to play winter ball in his native Puerto Rico for the Carolina Giants. Williams, 40, hopes to join Puerto Rico's World Baseball Classic team.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Not in the Tampa Bay Rays' plans, Jonny Gomes becomes a free agent 12/12/08 [Last modified: Saturday, December 13, 2008 8:51pm]
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