ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays have made the next in a series of moves to give their lineup a new look by bringing back an old face, agreeing to a one-year, $2.5 million deal with first baseman Logan Morrison.
Signing Morrison signals that the Rays are plotting to move Brad Miller from first base to second to replace Logan Forsythe and that they remain in the market for a right-handed bat to share time, either at first, DH and/or outfield depending on who it is.
Top free agent options include Chris Carter, Franklin Gutierrez and Mike Napoli, while trade possibilities are C.J. Cron (Angels) and Byung Ho Park (Twins). Another option is to sign switch-hitter Matt Wieters, who can catch, DH and play first.
Adding to their depth, the Rays also signed Rickie Weeks, a veteran right-handed hitter with some power, to a minor-league contract.
Morrison, 29, hit .238 for the Rays last year with 14 homers and 43 RBIs, playing in 107 games before a season-ending left wrist injury that required surgery. After a brutal start, with no homers or RBIs through May 16, he was fairly productive over his final 78 games, hitting .272 with the 14 homers, 43 RBIs and an .844 OPS. He is on track with his recovery and is expected to be ready for opening day.
When the deal with Morrison, which includes about $1 million in incentives, is finalized, the Rays must make room on the 40-man roster, with relievers Eddie Gamboa, Ryan Garton or (via trade) Erasmo Ramirez most likely to go.
Weeks, 34, spent last season with Arizona, hitting .239 with nine homers, 27 RBIs and a .777 OPS in just 205 plate appearances, getting part-time duty in the outfield. He has not played the infield since 2014.
The Rays also made official previously reported minor-league deals with relievers David Carpenter and Cory Rasmus, younger brother of new outfielder Colby Rasmus. They are also looking to add an experienced reliever.
TICKET TIME: Single-game tickets will go on sale to the public Feb. 10 via raysbaseball.com, then Feb. 13 at all outlets. Rays chief business officer Jeff Cogen said "savvy customers" this weekend should buy flex packs — those include five tickets for $75 and a choice of all games, including the April 2 opener and Sept. 19-20 Cubs games — before the public sale.
Manfred: Patience on pace of play
PALM BEACH — For those rooting for baseball to speed up the game, commissioner Rob Manfred says have patience. Owners and players ratified a new collective bargaining agreement in December, but they're still negotiating innovations designed to improve the pace of play. Owners discussed the issue during two days of meetings that concluded Friday. "We did review some rule changes largely related to pace of game that are being discussed with the Players Association," Manfred said. "More to follow when those negotiations are complete." Manfred has pushed for faster games since he became commissioner two years ago. But the average time of a nine-inning game last season was 3 hours, a 4-minute increase over 2015.
PHILLIES: Utilityman and former East Like High standout Chris Coghlan, 31, agreed to a minor-league contract. He hit .252 with one homer and 16 RBIs in 103 at-bats for the Cubs last season. He began the year with the A's, hitting .146 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 158 at-bats.
ROYALS: Kelvin Herrera, 27, agreed to a $5,325,000, one-year deal as one of the top relievers in the game avoided arbitration.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.