ST. PETERSBURG — With bigger-name relievers landing huge dollars elsewhere, the Rays made their first acquisition of the offseason on their terms, making a low-cost deal with a lesser-known pitcher they hope will pay off big.
Joel Peralta, a soon-to-be 35-year-old coming off a solid season in Washington, agreed to a one-year deal for $925,000 that is expected to be announced soon, possibly today.
So, too, is completion of the now 10-days-in-the-works trade of shortstop Jason Bartlett, with final details of the return — in place of or in addition to relievers Adam Russell and Cesar Ramos — apparently still being worked out.
And there could be more news, with a report from ESPN's Enrique Rojas that veteran reliever Guillermo Mota, 37, is choosing from among minor-league contract offers from the Rays, Dodgers and a return to the Giants.
Peralta comes with some intriguing stats and encouraging reviews from Nationals manager Jim Riggleman, who was hoping to have the 5-foot-11 right-hander back in Washington.
"I loved the guy, he really helped us a lot," Riggleman said. "Not only did he pick up innings for us, he pitched really well. He did a great job. He's resilient, he threw strikes, he's a great competitor.
"He's really a bulldog on the mound. He's a little guy, but he leaves it out there for you. … We started to use him in a lot more situations, we used him in the eighth and ninth (innings) when needed. He's not scared, I can tell you that. He'll take the ball in any situation. … He's a throwback."
Peralta was 1-0 with a 2.02 ERA in 39 games of mostly middle relief for the Nationals, striking out 49 while allowing 30 hits and nine walks in 49 innings. That was after going 1-0, 1.08 with 20 saves in 28 games for Triple-A Syracuse, where the Dominican Republic native struck out 38 and allowed 24 hits and seven walks in 331/3 innings.
Peralta has big-league time with the Angels (during manager Joe Maddon's final season as a coach there in 2005), Royals and Rockies with a career 5-11, 4.22 mark and two saves. He has spent only one full season in the majors, in 2007 in Kansas City, going 1-3, 3.80 in 62 games.
Depending on the final makeup of the Rays' rebuilt bullpen, Peralta — who features a 91-mph fastball, split-finger and curve — could end up working in key setup situations. He was nontendered by the Nats after initially seeking a multi-year deal, and the Rays were the most aggressive of the dozen teams to express interest.
Around the majors
RIVERA CONSIDERED BOSOX: Yankees closer Mariano Rivera confirmed reports that the Red Sox made a bid for him and said they were a legitimate option.
"It was real," Rivera, 41, said two days after he signed a two-year, $30 million deal with New York. "I made sure that I thanked them, because they took me into consideration. But, again, this is business, and the Yankees did the right thing. And I'm here."
Boston settled for Bobby Jenks, agreeing to a $12 million, two-year deal with the former White Sox closer. Jenks, 29, saved 27 games last season but lost his job because of injuries and declining effectiveness and posted a career-worst 4.44 ERA. Also, right-handed reliever Matt Albers agreed to a one-year deal. And former Dunedin standout Ryan Harvey, a 2003 first-round pick of the Cubs as an outfielder, signed a minor-league deal as a pitcher.
A'S ADD BAT: Outfielder Josh Willingham is headed to Oakland, which sent two prospects to the Nationals. Willingham, 31, batted .268 with a .389 on-base percentage and a .459 slugging percentage in 114 games last season.
The Nationals received right-handed reliever Henry Rodriguez and outfielder Corey Brown, a Tampa native and Plant High product. Later, Washington re-signed right-hander Chien-Ming Wang, who is trying to come back from shoulder surgery and hasn't pitched since July 2009.
CUBS: Right-hander Kerry Wood returned to his original franchise, agreeing to a one-year, $1.5 million deal. Wood, 33, had a 0.69 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 26 innings after a midseason trade to the Yankees.
TIGERS: Outfielder Magglio Ordonez agreed to a $10 million, one-year contract. The six-time All-Star, 36, batted .303 with a .378 on-base percentage and a .474 slugging percentage in 84 games before breaking his right ankle in July and having season-ending surgery.
TWINS: Japanese batting champion Tsuyoshi Nishioka reached preliminary agreement on a three-year contract worth about $10 million.
Information from Times wires was used in this report. Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]