ST. PETERSBURG — Second baseman Logan Forsythe already had reason to celebrate Thursday as he turned 29. Even more so by the end of the night, as he and the Rays closed in on a new contract that will guarantee him $10.25 million over two seasons and includes a 2018 option.
Forsythe's deal was one of five the Rays made with arbitration players eligible in advance of today's 1 p.m. deadline to exchange figures. They settled with reliever Jake McGee for $4.8 million, starter Alex Cobb $4 million, outfielder Desmond Jennings $3.1 million and outfielder Brandon Guyer $1.185 million.
Forsythe is coming off a career season in which he hit .281 with 17 homers, 68 RBIs and an .804 on-base plus slugging percentage and was voted team MVP. The guaranteed portion of the deal covers his last two years of arbitration, the option extends the Rays' control into his first year of free agency. He made $1.1 million last year.
McGee, the subject of trade rumors all offseason, got a raise from the $3.55 million he earned in an injury-shortened 2015 season, posting a 1-2, 2.41 record over 39 games.
Cobb is eyeing an August return as he recovers from the Tommy John elbow surgery that sidelined him all of 2015, when he also made $4 million. Jennings got a slight raise, from $3.1 million, after being limited to 28 games last year due to a knee injury that required surgery. Guyer nearly doubled his salary (from $515,800) in his first year of eligibility. He hit .265 with eight homers and 28 RBIs in 128 games.
Talks with five other arbitration eligibles will continue today. Under longstanding team policy, talks are cut off once figures are exchanged and they proceed to a hearing. The Rays are 6-0 in those hearings over their 18 seasons.
The other five, with their projected settlement numbers by mlbtraderumors.com: Catcher Hank Conger, $1.8 million; DH/first baseman Logan Morrison, $4.1 million; starter Erasmo Ramirez, $2.8 million; catcher Rene Rivera, $1.6 million and starter Drew Smyly, $3.9 million.
CUBA UPDATE: While Major League Baseball has not made official a proposed late-spring visit to Cuba, it released an overall schedule Thursday that has no Florida exhibitions for the Rays March 28-30, the planned time frame for the trip.