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Tampa Bay Rays drawn to young pitcher Cesar Cabral's 'high upside'

LAKE BUENA VISTA — In their effort to rebuild an entire bullpen in one offseason with limited resources, the Rays have to look everywhere.

And that includes the low levels of the Red Sox minor-league system, from where they plucked LHP Cesar Cabral in Thursday's Rule 5 draft of minor-leaguers.

Cabral, 21, split last season between Boston's Class A teams, so the Rays are looking for him to make a considerable leap, as Rule 5 picks have to be kept in the big leagues or passed through waivers and then offered back to their original team for half the $50,000 draft fee.

"That's a little bit of a stretch, but the stuff plays," Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics said. "We're in the position to take that type of chance."

Cabral, a Dominican with a 91-93 mph fastball, was 2-0 with a 0.29 ERA in 17 games for Greenville, then 2-0 with a 5.81 ERA in 28 games for Salem. Overall, he struck out 80 in 791/3 innings.

"He's got a chance," Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "He's got good stuff, he's got high upside."

If nothing else, the selection allowed the Rays some "revenge" on the Red Sox for signing their CC, Carl Crawford.

"We showed them," Friedman joked.

The Rays lost four players, the most prominent being RHP Aneury Rodriguez, who was acquired from Colorado for RHP Jason Hammel, to Houston. "We didn't think he could make our big-league club, and we're hoping to get him back," Lukevics said.

Taken in the minor-league phase were RHP Heath Rollins, who made a run at a big-league bullpen spot last spring, Royals; LHP Justin Dowdy, Giants; 2B Roan Salas, Blue Jays.

TRADE STALLED: A trade that was in place Wednesday night to send SS Jason Bartlett to the Padres for relievers Adam Russell and Cesar Ramos remained in limbo and potential jeopardy.

Officials with both teams were close-mouthed, declining to say what caused the delay, whether it was financial, contractual, medical or something else.

When the trade was widely reported Wednesday, the Rays said only that the reports were premature, and they said there was nothing new to report Thursday. Neither Bartlett nor his agents had heard from either team, another sign that there was a significant hitch.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Friedman didn't complete any deals during the meetings but said talks were "potentially very fruitful" on free agents and trades. … A deal to re-sign LHP J.P. Howell is expected in the next few days. … Nontendered INF/DH Willy Aybar had gotten interest from several teams but no offers. ... Free agent DH Gary Sheffield is making a serious bid to get in the Rays plans.

MISCELLANY: The Orioles found their shortstop, acquiring J.J. Hardy and former Rays utilityman Brendan Harris from the Twins for minor-league RHPs Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson. … The Yankees reportedly extended their offer for LHP Cliff Lee to seven years, while the Rangers were expected to have further talks with Lee. … C Russell Martin has offers from the Yankees, Red Sox and Jays, while C Miguel Olivo signed with Seattle ($7 million, two years). … LHP Dennys Reyes signed with the Phillies and OF Melky Cabrera with the Royals (both $1.25 million, one year).

Tampa Bay Rays drawn to young pitcher Cesar Cabral's 'high upside' 12/09/10 [Last modified: Thursday, December 9, 2010 10:35pm]

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