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Reliever Grant Balfour declines arbitration from Tampa Bay Rays, seeks multiyear contract

ST. PETERSBURG — Reliever Grant Balfour's confidence he deserves a multiyear contract was the primary reason he turned down the Rays' offer of arbitration and the one-year deal that comes with it.

"I believe there's a multiyear deal out there for me," Balfour said Tuesday night. "I'll take my chances on what I've done the past few years. … I think I've pitched better than to take a one-year, non-guaranteed (arbitration) deal."

Left-handed reliever Randy Choate also turned down arbitration, saying he, too, was looking for more security, at least with a guaranteed deal.

Tampa Bay's five other free agents who were offered arbitration — Joaquin Benoit (who signed with Detroit), Carl Crawford, Brad Hawpe, Chad Qualls and Rafael Soriano — declined as expected. If all seven sign major-league deals elsewhere, the Rays would get 10 extra picks in the 2011 draft.

Balfour, 32, said he'd be open to coming back if the Rays made a multiyear offer but that he "would like to have heard something" from them before now. As a result, he said, the decision "was not that tough, to be honest with you."

Balfour's market may be limited by his designation as a Type A free agent, as the signing team has to give up a draft pick, but he said he's "got reason to believe" there are several teams interested. He made $2.05 million last season and likely would have made about $3 million in arbitration.

Choate, who made $700,000, said he appreciated the opportunity he got with the Rays and would have "no reservations" about returning, but "there are some other options I wouldn't mind exploring."

Meanwhile, the trade market for shortstop Jason Bartlett appeared to shrink as the Cardinals acquired Ryan Theriot from Los Angeles and the Giants signed free agent Miguel Tejada to one-year deal for a reported $6.5 million.

There was no official word, and conflicting speculation, if Tejada would be the everyday shortstop and end the Giants' interest in Bartlett. The Orioles, Padres and Pirates are interested in Bartlett, though no deals are considered imminent.

Around the majors

DENVER — All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki tore up his contract with the Rockies and agreed to a 10-year deal worth $157.75 million, the eighth-biggest contract in baseball history.

"I'm really lucky," Tulowitzki said. "I can't wait to be here my entire career."

Tulowitzki wanted to emulate his idol, Cal Ripken, who played in just one city, and not his mentor, Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday, whose departure from Denver a couple of years ago after 11 years in the Rockies organization deeply affected him.

"I didn't want that to happen to me," Tulowitzki said. "I wanted to stay here for my career and not deal with all the other stuff."

DEAL COMPLETED: Infielder Juan Uribe and the Dodgers finalized a $21 million, three-year contract. Uribe, 31, hit .248 with a .310 on-base percentage and a .440 slugging percentage in 148 games, including 103 at shortstop, for the world champion Giants.

In other Dodgers news, a judge in Los Angeles declared an impasse over efforts to settle who owns the team after a bitter divorce between Frank and Jamie McCourt, the couple who bought the team six years ago.

TALKS DELAYED: Major League Baseball said Friday's scheduled meeting among management, players and umpires in Orlando was postponed because of a death in the family of one of the participants.

A'S: The team met with free-agent slugger Lance Berkman, 34, a switch-hitter who batted .248 with a .368 on-base percentage and a .413 slugging percentage in 122 games this season between the Astros and Yankees.

METS: Infielder Daniel Murphy strained his left hamstring during winter ball in the Dominican Republic. An MRI exam on outfielder Fernando Martinez showed minor arthritis in his right knee but no new injuries, and a scan on first baseman Nick Evans' left, non-throwing shoulder showed no further damage to his torn labrum.

RANGERS: Japanese free-agent right-hander Yoshinori Tateyama agreed to a one-year contract with the AL champions that includes club options for each of the two seasons after that. Tateyama, a sidearmer who turns 35 on Dec. 26, has never pitched in the United States.

YANKEES: Shortstop Derek Jeter huddled with his agent, Casey Close, as the team await a counteroffer from its captain. New York has offered Jeter a $45 million, three-year contract, and the All-Star shortstop has not made a formal proposal.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Reliever Grant Balfour declines arbitration from Tampa Bay Rays, seeks multiyear contract 11/30/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 11:29pm]

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