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Rays still in talks with Pirates over Jason Bay

TORONTO — The Rays' efforts to land Pirates OF Jason Bay could depend on whether the rival Red Sox trade Manny Ramirez.

The Rays were in serious — though far from finished — talks with the Pirates about Bay, but he could be headed to Boston if a complicated three-way deal that would send Ramirez to the Marlins is completed before today's 4 p.m. deadline for nonwaiver trades. If not, the Rays could again be Bay's prime suitor.

The Rays are also exploring other options, which include Cincinnati's Adam Dunn, Philadelphia's Jayson Werth and likely a few others, though if they can't get a hitter they really want, and get him without giving up one of their top prospects, they likely will stand pat.

Their primary target appeared to be Bay, a two-time All-Star and former NL Rookie of the Year. But despite reports speculating prospects such as SS Reid Brignac and RHPs Jeff Niemann and/or Jeremy Hellickson were involved, there was no deal in place.

Before Wednesday's game, an upbeat manager Joe Maddon said there was "a solid 50-50" chance the Rays would do something. "There are still some things on the table, and they're interesting stuff, actually, so we'll see," he said. "I mean really interesting, possibly."

Given their need for a right-handed-hitting outfielder, it couldn't get much more interesting than Bay, 29. He averaged 31 homers and 97 RBIs from 2004-06, winning the rookie award and going to two All-Star Games, dropped off a bit in 2007 but rebounded this year, hitting .282 with 22 homers and 64 RBIs in 106 games. Plus, he is signed through 2009, making $5.75-million this season and $7.5-million next. He has played almost his entire career in leftfield but would be expected to move to right if he joined the Rays.

The Pirates had reportedly been seeking a package of two premium prospects but may have lowered their price some. The Rays have seemed steadfast in not wanting to trade their top prospects, a group that apparently includes LHP David Price, RHP Wade Davis, Brignac and Hellickson. So the key issues could be whether the Rays will come off that position or whether the Pirates would take a package that could include Niemann, OF Fernando Perez and/or others.

The Rays are also in the market for an experienced reliever, though it was unclear if their primary target, LHP Brian Fuentes, would be traded by Colorado and what the cost would be. Other names that have been mentioned in various reports include Atlanta's Will Ohman, Pittsburgh's John Grabow, Kansas City's Ron Mahay, San Francisco's Jack Taschner and the Cubs' Scott Eyre.

LHP Scott Kazmir said he hoped the Rays did something. "Everyone in the AL is starting to beef up," he said. "So it would be nice to get a little bit of help."

ROCCO REPORT: OF Rocco Baldelli was 0-for-3 with a walk as the DH for Double-A Montgomery on Wednesday and is now 11-for-36 with three homers and eight RBIs in 12 games. He is expected to be off tonight then play seven innings in rightfield Friday in the final game of his 20-day rehab assignment, after which the Rays will decide whether to activate him.

GOOD GARZA: How big a deal was it that Matt Garza beat Toronto ace Roy Halladay twice in an 11-day span?

Only five other pitchers, according to Stats Inc., have ever beaten him twice (or more) in their entire careers: Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Vicente Padilla, Pat Rapp and Tim Wakefield. Only Rapp, Wakefield and Martinez did it twice in the same season.

MISCELLANY: The Rays went 2-for-26 with runners in scoring position and won two of the three games. … LHP J.P. Howell logged his 12th straight scoreless appearance, lowering his ERA to 2.49. … Toronto's Scott Richmond was the 13th pitcher to make his big-league debut against the Rays and the sixth to lose. … RHP Edwin Jackson beat the Jays for the first time.

Rays still in talks with Pirates over Jason Bay 07/30/08 [Last modified: Thursday, July 31, 2008 2:46pm]
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