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Rays' Jake Odorizzi ready to fight for himself in arbitration

ST. PETERSBURG — The difference between the salary starter Jake Odorizzi sought and what the Rays offered is, relative to baseball's big numbers, not much, just $275,000.

But, Odorizzi said, it is worth battling for in his first year of arbitration eligibility, which is why he will head to a Feb. 13 hearing for a panel to pick between the $4.1 million he wants and the $3.825 million the Rays have proposed. Either way, it will be a massive raise from the $520,700 he made last year.

"I'm not too worried about it; we just had a disagreement when it came to the numbers," Odorizzi, 26, said. "I didn't believe in coming down that low.

"I think what I've done the last three years, I'm not going to just throw aside and agree just for the sake of agreeing. I just held firm on what I think I'm worth. (The system) is implemented for a reason. This is the year you can kind of fight for your own salary. I fight on the field, why would I not fight for myself off the field?"

While those sound like, well, fighting words, Odorizzi said there won't be any hard feelings. "I think they know as well as I do … it's just the business side of it," he said. "Once it's over, it'll be back to full baseball. Obviously it's going to work itself out."

In his three full seasons with the Rays, Odorizzi is 30-28 with a 3.72 ERA over 92 games. Among AL pitchers with at least that many starts, only Corey Kluber (3.01), David Price (3.25), Jose Quintana (3.29) and teammate Chris Archer (3.52) have better ERAs.

Overall statistically, Odorizzi seems to compare well with Shelby Miller, who in his first year of eligibility last year after being traded to Arizona received $4.35 million.

It is worth noting this is the second year Odorizzi, and agent Jason Wood, disagreed with the Rays. Last spring, after unsuccessful talks for an extension, Odorizzi had his contract renewed and his pay cut $1,300 from 2015.

Also, Drew Smyly beat the Rays in arbitration last spring — the first to do so in the Stuart Sternberg ownership era — and ended up getting traded this winter. "I don't know if that goes hand in hand," Odorizzi said. "He also was going to make the most this year."

RASMUS DEAL: There were no problems with outfielder Colby Rasmus' physical, but due to administrative issues, his one-year, reported $5 million deal agreed to Jan. 9 won't be official until early next week. The Rays do have to clear a space on the 40-man roster for him.

PITCHING IN: Right-hander Jose De Leon worked out with his new teammates for the first time since Monday's trade from the Dodgers, throwing a bullpen session at the Trop with the booths from the weekend home show behind him.

ON THE MOVE: Richie Shaffer, the Rays' 2012 first-round draft pick and first baseman of the future, has reason to feel unwanted this offseason.

Shaffer was traded in mid November to the Mariners, then in the past five weeks waived by the Mariners and claimed by the Phillies, waived and claimed by the Reds, then waived and claimed by the Indians. "No matter where I land I'm ready," Shaffer tweeted. "#BigThingsComing"

AROUND THE MAJORS: Yordano Ventura's fiery passion, million-watt smile and strong work ethic were mentioned several times as his teammates, coaches, Royals support staff and administrators met privately in Kansas City, Mo., to tell stories, shed tears and laugh about the 25-year-old's impact on their lives before he died in a car crash Sunday in the Dominican Republic. Ventura "lived with so much passion, everything this dude did he did with passion," pitcher Danny Duffy said. … Randy Jones, 67, the Padres' first Cy Young Award winner, is fighting throat cancer linked to tobacco use during his baseball career.… Commissioner Rob Manfred has discussed solutions to the Indians' Chief Wahoo logo, considered divisive by some, with owner Paul Dolan. … The Indians will host the 2019 All-Star Game.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Marc Topkin can be reached at mtopkin@tampabay.com.

Rays' Jake Odorizzi ready to fight for himself in arbitration 01/27/17 [Last modified: Friday, January 27, 2017 10:35pm]
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