Tampa Bay Rays reach one-year deals with B.J. Upton, David Price

ST. PETERSBURG — With the exception of Jeff Niemann — who is headed to a hearing next month — everyone else involved in Tuesday's resolution of the Rays' remaining arbitration cases seemed pleased.

Certainly starter David Price, who more than tripled his salary to $4.35 million and joked that he may celebrate by investing with an even richer Tampa-based player. "I might ask (Yankees star Derek) Jeter if I can buy a wing in his house for a little while," Price joked.

Also centerfielder B.J. Upton, who got a hefty raise to $7 million, making him the team's second-highest paid player.

And even the Rays, who also struck a one-year deal with reliever Burke Badenhop for $1.075 million, with executive vice president Andrew Friedman saying, "We had a very good feel for what the fair outcome would be with each one of these."

The only scuff on the day was the lack of resolution with Niemann who, in his first year of eligibility, sought $3.2 million while the Rays offered $2.75 million. A panel of arbitrators will pick between the figures after a hearing that can be uncomfortable for both sides.

"It's something that unfortunately happens sometimes in this process, and it's definitely a sub-optimal outcome," said Friedman, under whom the Rays are 4-0 in hearings.

Niemann, who made $903,000 last season while going 11-7, 4.06 ERA and spending six weeks on the DL with a back strain, declined comment, saying he would wait until the issue was resolved.

In his final season before free agency, Upton got a 45 percent raise from last year's $4.825 million, when he hit .243 with 23 homers, 81 RBIs and 36 steals. And Upton did so without the hassles of a hearing, which he went through two years ago.

"Our whole angle was to get him in 2012 with a good mental approach to the upcoming season and not have the rancor of an arbitration case hanging over him," agent Larry Reynolds said. "B.J.'s focus is he wants to win. He wants to win a World Series."

Tweeted Upton: "Thanks for all the support. Glad to have that behind me. Ready for a great 2012."

Price said he was "definitely happy" with his deal, which is considered the largest one-year contract for a starter in his first year of salary arbitration, matching the 2006 contract Dontrelle Willis got from Florida but with $1.5 million deferred.

"I believed the Rays had gone outside of their comfort zone in an attempt to do a deal that would make David happy," agent Bo McKinnis said. "In all negotiations you seek 'more.' When Andrew made the move to make sure no other starting pitcher had ever received a larger salary in their first year of salary arbitration, David and I gained a peace to move to an agreement."

Price — who was 12-13, 3.49 last season — professed his "love" for the Rays and the Tampa Bay area repeatedly during a conference call and said he would like to stay long-term. Though in the first of four arbitration years and under the Rays' control through 2015, he may become too expensive to keep, but McKinnis said that will be a discussion with Friedman for another time.

"I know I'm a Ray right now and I love being a Ray," Price said.

Around the majors

CRAWFORD HURT: Red Sox leftfielder and former Rays All-Star Carl Crawford had surgery on his left wrist and could miss opening day. General manager Ben Cherington said that Crawford is expected to resume hitting in spring training and be ready early in the season. Crawford is coming off a disappointing first season for a Boston team that blew a huge wild-card lead to the Rays in September.

TIGERS LOSE DH: Tigers star Victor Martinez could miss the 2012 season after injuring his left knee during offseason conditioning. The team said that Martinez, 33, tore his left ACL last week. The DH will be evaluated again next week, but the team fully expects Martinez to need surgery.

COUNSELL RETIRES: Craig Counsell, 41, retired after a 15-year career and became special assistant to Brewers general manager Doug Melvin. In other Brewers news, Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki agreed to a two-year deal with a club option for 2014.

GIANTS: Right-hander Tim Lincecum asked for $21.5 million in salary arbitration and was offered $17 million by the club. The request neared the record amount sought in arbitration. Astros pitcher Roger Clemens asked for $22 million in 2005. Also, third baseman Pablo Sandoval agreed to a three-year deal worth $17.15 million guaranteed.

ORIOLES: Former A's, Mets, and Brewers pitching coach Rick Peterson was hired as pitching development coordinator.

RANGERS: The two-time defending AL champions were working to finish a multiyear deal with Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish before their 30-day negotiating window ends at 5 p.m. today.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com. Follow his coverage on Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.

Tampa Bay Rays reach one-year deals with B.J. Upton, David Price 01/17/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2012 12:35am]

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