ST. PETERSBURG — As the search for offense continues, the Rays are close to a deal to add another piece, veteran right-hander Fernando Rodney, to their bullpen.
Rodney, who turns 35 in March, told an Associated Press reporter in the Dominican Republic last week he has agreed to a one-year contract with the Rays for slightly more than $2 million.
The deal has not been finalized, though it could be today.
Rodney, 34, had 37 saves for the Tigers in 2009, but his performance the past two seasons with the Angels was not as impressive as he went 7-8 with 17 saves total and a 4.32 ERA.
Rodney spoke to the AP reporter as if the deal was complete. "It's confirmed, (it) will be published in January if God permits," he said, based on a Google translation of his quotes. "I signed for one year with Tampa Bay to keep working hard and see if God gives me something better."
The Rays did not confirm the deal, which is likely pending a physical, possibly after the Dominican League playoffs. But on Rodney's mlb.com Dominican League stat page, his "parent club" is listed as Tampa Bay.
Rodney has some history at Tropicana Field. While with Detroit in 2009, he was given a three-game suspension after throwing a ball from the field into the Trop press box after getting the final out of a game.
Rodney told the AP he will compete for the closer's job held last season by Kyle Farnsworth.
"I think there is a position, (Tampa Bay) told me that no closer (is defined)," Rodney said, via the Google translation. "We will fight the post to see who wins. I have faith in God that if you have to fight the post, I'm going to go."
Rodney is coming off a two-year, $11 million contract with the Angels. He lost his closer's job early last season, spent six weeks on the DL with a back strain and didn't pitch much upon his return, his 32 innings were his fewest since 2003. He told the AP that he was pleased to get the deal with the Rays because last season was not a good one.
However, he has been pitching well in the Dominican Winter League for Escogido, with a 1.13 ERA and three saves in his first eight games.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]