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Tampa Bay Rays lose catcher Gregg Zaun, who signs with Milwaukee Brewers

RIVERVIEW — The Rays gained a draft pick but lost an option behind the plate when veteran catcher Gregg Zaun signed a one-year deal with the Brewers.

Though the Rays declined a $2 million option on Zaun last month, they maintained interest and contact. But Zaun, 38, got more money (a guaranteed $2.15 million, plus $600,000 in incentives) and more playing time with the Brewers, who plan for him to be their primary starter.

The signing leaves the Rays to decide whether to keep both Dioner Navarro and recently acquired Kelly Shoppach — who are both coming off down years, hit better against left-handers and due to make around $2.5 million through arbitration — or decide between them by the Dec. 12 non-tender date and acquire a more complementary catcher.

Manager Joe Maddon said at Friday's YMCA Camp Cristina playground building event that he liked the idea of keeping Navarro and Shoppach, and he expected both to hit better next season. "I think it could be kind of a really great combination actually," Maddon said. "Those are two pretty good catchers right there."

The only lefty swinger on the free agent market is veteran Paul Bako, 37, who hit .224 for the Phillies. Former Boston backup George Kottaras, claimed last month by Milwaukee, could be available, and Pittsburgh might trade switch-hitter Ryan Doumit, due to make $3.55 million in 2010 and $5.1 million in 2011.

Because the Rays offered Zaun arbitration, they get an extra 2010 draft pick between Rounds 1 and 2.

Zaun will get a $1.9 million salary and either a $250,000 buyout or a $2.25 million deal for 2011. "It was an opportunity to play every day, and I'm excited about that," he told Brewers.com. "I'm 38 … and a lot of people have made assumptions about how much I can play, but I like that challenge."

Figgins to M's? Former Brandon High standout Chone Figgins, 31, is close to a deal with the Mariners, ESPN.com reported. Seattle has aggressively pursued the Angels free agent to replace Adrian Beltre at third.

GIANTS: Pitcher Brad Penny and infielder Juan Uribe, both free agents, rejected one-year deals.

RANGERS: Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was pulled from winter ball with discomfort in his surgically repaired right shoulder.

RED SOX: Marco Scutaro signed a two-year deal with a club option for 2012 with a team looking to stop its shortstop carousel. Scutaro, who signed for a guaranteed $13 million including a $1 million signing bonus, hit .282 with 12 homers and 60 RBIs for Toronto last season. Boston has had seven shortstops with at least 50 starts since mid 2004.

WHITE SOX: General manager Ken Williams said he is not shopping closer Bobby Jenks.

YANKEES: The team set its budget parameters at its organizational meetings. "Now we'll go out trying to execute some game plans," GM Brian Cashman said.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Tampa Bay Rays lose catcher Gregg Zaun, who signs with Milwaukee Brewers 12/04/09 [Last modified: Friday, December 4, 2009 10:27pm]

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