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Sam Fuld leaves Rays for A's

Sam Fuld says he sees a better opportunity to make the majors with Oakland.

Sam Fuld says he sees a better opportunity to make the majors with Oakland.

Outfielder Sam Fuld never wanted to leave the Rays. But after being non-tendered in December and wading through months of uncertainty as a free agent, he decided Tuesday — finally — to pass on returning to Tampa Bay on a minor-league deal and took a similar offer from Oakland.

Fuld, 32, has no guarantee of making the A's big-league roster without someone getting hurt, but he felt it was a slightly better opportunity than with the Rays. He'll get an $800,000 salary when with Oakland (plus up to another $100,000 for games played) and has two windows, in March and on June 1, to opt out and sign elsewhere.

"Certainly opportunity to play in the big leagues was the No. 1 driving factor," Fuld said. "But there were other variables involved, too. Something I learned going through the process is the importance of having opt-out opportunities, and that played a key role in it. It's no secret that Oakland is essentially a carbon copy of the Rays in many ways on the West Coast, so it's not surprising that they showed interest in me and I share that sort of mutual respect to them."

Fuld would have been competing for the Rays' final roster spot with out-of-options outfielder Brandon Guyer, rookie outfielder Kevin Kiermaier and non-roster veterans such as Wilson Betemit and Jayson Nix. In Oakland, he looks to be battling Michael Taylor for the final outfield spot.

Fuld, who hit .199 in 119 games last season, said he felt he was leaving Tampa Bay on good terms and acknowledged he could still return if the Rays had a need since he can opt out.

BRAVES REWARD FREEMAN: Atlanta agreed to an eight-year deal with first baseman Freddie Freeman that is worth about $125 million, the Associated Press reported. Also, outfielder Jason Heyward and the Braves agreed to a $13.3 million, two-year contract.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com. Follow him on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

Rays hoping to help outfit T-ball players

The Rays are launching a community-friendly initiative to provide jerseys and caps for more than 5,500 T-ball players and coaches.

The program, in coordination with Little League Baseball, will outfit kids in Rays colors — in 18 combinations, created by MLB unifrom maker Majestic — across 70 leagues in six counties, stretching south to Sarasota County, north to Pasco and east to Polk.

"We've heard from so many Little Leagues and parents over the last few years that all the kids in their leagues want to be the Rays when teams are assigned," Rays senior VP Mark Fernandez said. "By partnering with Majestic, a local company and the official MLB provider, we were able to fulfill that request and at the same time allow the leagues to put their resources toward other needs."

The leagues estimate the program will save more than $115,000, the Rays say, allowing them to upgrade facilities and equipment .

The Rays also will stage clinics for the youth teams, to begin this weekend at the Trop for several invited Pinellas and Hillsborough leagues.

Also, outfielder Matt Joyce today will present a $5,700 check to All Children's Hospital of Brandon, proceeds from his "Sweet Swingin' Baseball Camp" that also benefits North Brandon Youth Baseball.

Sam Fuld leaves Rays for A's 02/04/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 9:06pm]

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