Tampa Bay Rays still have catching issues to sort out

INDIANAPOLIS — Rays officials accomplished Job 1 at the winter meetings, acquiring closer Rafael Soriano in a trade with the Braves on Thursday. But they still have considerable work to do in shaping their roster for what apparently will be a serious bid to return to the postseason.

They have to clarify their catching situation, deciding whether to keep both Dioner Navarro and Kelly Shoppach. And they are still open to acquiring OF Milton Bradley from the Cubs for DH Pat Burrell, but on their financial terms.

"We've had a lot of good conversations," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said.

The next order of business is the Saturday night deadline to decide whether to tender contracts to all 10 of their arbitration-eligible players, with OF Gabe Gross and Navarro seemingly the biggest questions. The others are RHPs Grant Balfour, Lance Cormier and Matt Garza; LHPs Randy Choate and J.P. Howell, OF B.J. Upton, SS Jason Bartlett and Shoppach.

BY THE RULES: The Rays didn't lose or gain much in the Rule 5 draft of unprotected minor-leaguers. They took LHP Armando Zerpa from the Red Sox and sold him to the Dodgers in the major-league phase. Then the Rays took RHP Miguel Sierra from the low end of the Cubs organization and lost LHP Mike Wlodarczyk (to the Nationals) and RHP Douglas Salinas (to the Reds).

Red Sox get Bonser

On the final day of the winter meetings, the Twins traded RHP Boof Bonser, a Gibbs High grad, to the Red Sox for a player to be named later or cash. The 28-year-old was designated for assignment earlier this week after RHP Carl Pavano agreed to go to arbitration with the team. Bonser missed all of last season after having surgery on his pitching shoulder. He was 18-25 in his career with the Twins with a 5.12 ERA.

report: Red Sox ready to trade lowell to rangers: The team reached a preliminary agreement on a trade that would send 2007 World Series MVP Mike Lowell, 35, to the Rangers for C Max Ramirez, ESPN.com reported. The Red Sox reportedly would pay $9 million of Lowell's $12 million salary, a cash transfer large enough to require approval from the commissioner's office. Lowell, a third baseman, hit .324 with 21 homers and 120 RBIs in 2007. But he slumped to 73 RBIs in 2008 and 75 RBIs last season, hitting 17 homers each season.

Mets make offers to bay, molina: Looking to fill two holes and add power to their lineup, the Mets made contract offers to a pair of free agents: LF Jason Bay and C Bengie Molina. The team's bid for Bay was between $60 million and $65 million over four years. Molina would cost much less. Bay batted .267 with 36 homers and 119 RBIs last season for Boston. Molina, 35, hit .265 with 20 homers and 80 RBIs for San Francisco.

Astros: The team agreed to a $4.5 million, one-year contract with 3B Pedro Feliz, 34. He hit .266 with 12 homers and 82 RBIs last season for the Phillies, who declined a $5.5 million option for 2010 and opted to pay a $500,000 buyout.

Nationals: The team is expected to announce today the signing of C Ivan Rodriguez, 38, to a two-year, $6 million deal. The 14-time All-Star split last season between Houston and Texas, hitting .249 with 10 homers. He is slated as backup to Jesus Flores.

Pirates: Former AL rookie of the year infielder Bobby Crosby, 29, and the team agreed to a $1 million, one-year deal.

Rangers: RHP Rich Harden and the team completed the one-year deal that guarantees him $7.5 million.

Yankees: The team would like OF Johnny Damon back, but if the free agent is not willing to bend, the club said it will look into utility man Mark DeRosa, CF Mike Cameron and their own DH, Hideki Matsui.

Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Tampa Bay Rays still have catching issues to sort out 12/10/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 10, 2009 10:32pm]

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