ST. PETERSBURG — Outfielder Sam Fuld knew a poor 2013 season could lead to being non-tendered by the Rays, but that didn't make it any less disappointing when he got official word Monday that he was being cut loose.
"It's upsetting just thinking about not being with these guys when I've had such a good experience," he said. "It's a little disheartening thinking ahead to next year."
The Rays also parted with lefty reliever Wesley Wright, who had a 2.92 ERA and held lefties to a .154 average in 16 games after being acquired from Houston. The seven other arbitration-eligibles were tendered contracts: pitchers David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Jake McGee and Cesar Ramos, outfielder Matt Joyce, catcher Jose Lobaton and utilityman Sean Rodriguez.
Executive vice president Andrew Friedman said they would remain in contact with and are open to re-signing both Fuld and Wright.
Fuld, 32, had the least productive of his three seasons with the Rays, hitting .199 with a .270 on-base percentage, though he played in a career-high 118 games, starting 48.
An intellectual player with an appreciation for advanced statistics, Fuld enjoyed being with the unconventional-thinking Rays. "That's part of why it's so upsetting tonight, is that it was just a good fit," he said. "I felt so comfortable there. If there was a perfect organization to be a part of for me, I think Tampa Bay was it. It's difficult to think about being in a different uniform."
Fuld said he would be open to returning but as a free agent will explore all opportunities.
Fuld was projected to make around $900,000, so the issue wasn't cost savings but roster formation, Friedman saying the early-in-the-offseason tender deadline making it difficult to decide on bench players. Another potential factor: Brandon Guyer is out of options, meaning he can't be sent to the minors without going through waivers.
Similarly, Friedman said of Wright, who was projected to make $1.4 million: "This move isn't about his talent as much as it's about our current bullpen setup." Agent Larry Reynolds said Wright enjoyed being with the Rays, but "obviously it's time to move on and I'm very confident that a pitcher with Wesley's resume will do fine."
Molina deal official
Rays catcher Jose Molina's two-year, $4.5 million deal was made official late Monday.
Though Molina is 38 and hit only .233 with a .594 on-base plus slugging percentage, Friedman said his preparation and experience is very helpful to their pitchers. Also, "He has played a large role in the success that we've had on the run prevention side." He will make $1.75 million in 2014 and $2.75 million in 2015 and donate $40,000 to the Rays Baseball Foundation.
Around the majors
FISTER TO NATS: The Tigers traded right-hander Doug Fister to the Nationals for infielder Steve Lombardozzi, minor-league left-hander Robbie Ray and lefty reliever Ian Krol.
KAZMIR TO A'S: Left-hander Scott Kazmir agreed to a $22 million, two-year deal with the Athletics. The former Rays All-Star, 29, had a comeback season with the Indians. Oakland also acquired right-handed closer Jim Johnson from the Orioles for second baseman Jemile Weeks.
NAVARRO TO JAYS: Former Rays catcher Dioner Navarro agreed to an $8 million, two-year contract with Toronto.
PROSPECT DIES: Pirates minor-league outfielder Evan Chambers, a Lakeland High and Hillsborough Community College product who played in four games for the Gators in 2008, died in his sleep over the weekend. He was 24.
Information from Times wires was used in this report.