Monday, January 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays in talks with Odorizzi about contract extension

NASHVILLE — The Rays are having talks with other teams that could involve trading RHP Jake Odorizzi in the next few days. But they also are having discussions with Odorizzi that could keep him tied to the Rays for a half-dozen more years.

The Rays have offered Odorizzi a multi-million-dollar contract extension that includes team options which carry past his 2020 start of free agency, the Times has learned. Agent Jason Wood said there is mutual interest to soon make a counter offer, with resolution in the next month or so.

"It's a very nice initial offer," Wood said. "Jake really likes being there, really likes the camaraderie, really likes (pitching coach Jim) Hickey. Of course he wants to be treated fairly. There's a lot of reasons talks should go on."

Odorizzi, 25, is a relative bargain, making around $550,000 this season and next before becoming arbitration eligible. Specifics on the offer were not available. With less service time, RHP Chris Archer in 2014 signed a six-year deal that guaranteed him $25.5 million and included two option years with salaries of $9 million and $11 million.

The Rays have signed a number of young players to long-term deals, with mixed results, and have been unable to strike deals with others, including RHP Alex Cobb, who was in talks last spring before getting injured. LHP prospect Blake Snell has also been the subject of at least internal talks about receiving a long-term offer, and CF Kevin Kiermaier would seem to be another potential candidate.

BUTLER GONE: The Rays lost the gamble of putting OF Joey Butler on waivers as he was claimed by the Indians. Butler, who provided a huge early season offensive spark by hitting .338 through mid June, was designated for assignment by the Rays after last week's acquisition of C Hank Conger, though they hoped to sign him back to a minor-league deal. "Joey was a huge part of the success we had last year," executive VP Chaim Bloom said. "We were hoping that we would be able to get him through (waivers) and keep him, but unfortunately that's what the waiver process is for and the Indians claimed him."

RAYS RUMBLINGS: A spring fishing trip with manager Kevin Cash and bench coach Tom Foley, a spot in the team photo and a round of batting practice with the team before a spring game are part of an MLB-wide auction this week to benefit cancer research; see mlb.com/SU2Cauction. … Cash had his turn in the media room Monday and said he feels much more comfortable than last year, when he arrived at the meetings days after being hired: "I was walking around and didn't really know where I was going, didn't know who I was talking to. A lot of introductory conversations." … Minor-league medical coordinator Joe Benge was named the minor-league athletic trainer of the year by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society, which also gave 20-year awards to team doctors Koco Eaton, Michael Reilly and James Andrews. … Among the onlookers (and job-seekers) was 1B Allen Dykstra, who played briefly with the Rays last season.

AROUND THE MAJORS: After a talk today with Nationals officials completes his thorough information-gathering process, ex-Rays INF/OF Ben Zobrist is set to make a decision on where to sign, with the Mets, Giants and Dodgers among the options. … A deal that would have sent Reds LH closer Aroldis Chapman to the Dodgers for two prospects was put on hold after reports surfaced of a domestic violence incident involving Chapman. … Zobrist's decision is expected to open the way for a series of other signings, with ex-Rays SS Asdrubal Cabrera, for example, a backup option for the Mets. … The Red Sox continued to remake their pitching staff, acquiring RH reliever Carson Smith and LH Roenis Elias from Seattle for LHP Wade Miley and RHP Jonathan Aro. … There continued to be conflicting reports on the availability of Marlins ace RHP Jose Fernandez, the Alonso High product. … RHP Chris Young re-signed with the Royals. … Hall of Famer Cal Ripken was named Special Adviser to the Commissioner on youth programs and outreach. … A committee considered 10 candidates from the pre-integration era (through 1946) but didn't elect any to the Hall of Fame.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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