Tampa Bay Rays offer arbitration to seven, could gain 10 draft picks

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays offered arbitration to seven of their free agents, decisions that don't necessarily increase their chances of keeping any but set them up for a potential haul of 10 additional draft picks if they don't.

Offers were made to Type A's outfielder Carl Crawford and relievers Grant Balfour and Rafael Soriano, and Type B's outfielder/infielder Brad Hawpe and relievers Joaquin Benoit, Randy Choate and Chad Qualls.

They declined to offer Type A reliever Dan Wheeler and Type B first baseman Carlos Peña. No action was required on outfielders Rocco Baldelli and Gabe Kapler since they don't warrant compensation.

Players have until Tuesday to decide on the offer. If they accept, they are considered signed, with their salary to be determined; Balfour, who made $2.05 million last season, would seem most likely to consider the offer. If the players decline, as most do, the Rays are in line to get the draft picks if they sign elsewhere: for Type A's, a top pick from the signing team and a compensation pick between the first two rounds; for the Type B's, just a compensation pick.

The decision to not offer to Wheeler and Peña seems like good business, as both are likely to get less (perhaps considerably) than they made in 2010 (Peña $10.125 million, Wheeler $3.5 million) on the open market but could have gotten raises if they went through arbitration. (Plus, they already declined a $4 million option on Wheeler and paid him a $1 million buyout.)

Teams will sometimes work out agreements with their Type B's to decline the offer so they can get the extra compensatory pick, which might well have been the case with Hawpe and Qualls. Choate, a bargain last year at $700,000, seems likely to at least look elsewhere. Crawford and Soriano are expected to leave; Benoit already signed with Detroit.

Around the league

TIGERS ADD BAT: Victor Martinez is joining the Tigers, bringing a powerful bat to a lineup that already includes slugger Miguel Cabrera and potentially damaging the Red Sox.

Martinez and Detroit reached a preliminary agreement on a $50 million, four-year contract, several media outlets reported. In 127 games this season, Martinez hit .302 with a .351 on-base percentage and a .493 slugging percentage for third-place Boston, which is now left with a big hole at catcher.

HUFF RE-SIGNS: Former Ray Aubrey Huff is staying put with the Giants just as he'd hoped, agreeing to a $22 million, two-year contract with the World Series champions. "There was a big interest out there. But in the end, it wasn't going to take much to come back here for me," Huff said.

COLLINS JOINS METS: Terry Collins was introduced as the 20th manager in Mets history, saying he can rejuvenate a club that has spent two seasons at the bottom of the NL East.

ORIOLES: Manager Buck Showalter named bench coach Willie Randolph, pitching coach Mark Connor and hitting coach Jim Presley to his staff.

RANGERS: Thad Bosley was named hitting coach to replace Clint Hurdle, who last week left after one season to become the manager of the Pirates.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Tampa Bay Rays offer arbitration to seven, could gain 10 draft picks 11/23/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 24, 2010 1:18pm]

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