Tampa Bay Rays still talking with four remaining arbitration-eligible players

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays' efforts to avoid hearings with their four remaining arbitration-eligible players will come down to a busy morning.

No deals were close as of late Monday, leaving only until noon today to reach agreements with shortstop Jason Bartlett, starter Matt Garza, reliever J.P. Howell and centerfielder B.J. Upton. That's when the sides have to submit their requested salaries, and that's the Rays' deadline to cut off talks and proceed to a February hearing.

"We have had a number of back-and-forth conversations, and I expect that will continue until the deadline," executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "We remain cautiously optimistic that we'll resolve these (today)."

In the four previous offseasons under Friedman, the Rays have gone to just three hearings, which can be contentious, and won all.

This year's class involves four prominent players, all in line for large raises. Bartlett, who made $1,981,250 last season, is likely to get around $4 million. Garza, who made $433,300, and Upton, who made $435,000, will get around $3 million. Howell, who made $433,700, could be close to $2 million.

More Rays news:

• First baseman Carlos Peña said he has started taking batting practice and has no issues with the two broken fingers that ended his 2009 season. "I feel great," he said. "I'm very happy with that. My hand is pain free; no discomfort at all."

• FanFest is set for Feb. 20 at Tropicana Field, with the Rays, in addition to making a $50,000 donation, directing proceeds to Haiti relief efforts. Parking and admission are free; a $20 donation is required to get autographs from players and coaches.

EDMONDS TO RETURN … ?: Jim Edmonds went on stage at Cardinals manager Tony La Russa's charity event to ask for a tryout.

The outfielder, 39, did not play last season but never retired. La Russa said Edmonds began texting him about a comeback the day before Sunday's Animal Rescue Foundation event in St. Louis, and at first the manager thought it was a joke. But Edmonds went on stage and asked for another shot.

"I thought he was going to just say how much he enjoyed the show," La Russa said.

ARBITRATION ROUNDUP: At least eight players reached agreements, leaving 114 set to swap salaries among the 128 who filed Friday. Notably, the Marlins, under fire for failing to spend their revenue sharing money, struck one-year deals with second baseman Dan Uggla ($7.8 million) and pitchers Anibal Sanchez ($1.25 million) and Renyel Pinto ($1,075,000).

PADRES: Reserve Jerry Hairston agreed to a $2,125,000, one-year deal two days after San Diego reacquired Hairston's younger brother, Scott.

PIRATES: Right-handed reliever Brendan Donnelly, 38, finalized a $1.35 million, one-year contract.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Tampa Bay Rays still talking with four remaining arbitration-eligible players 01/18/10 [Last modified: Monday, January 18, 2010 11:40pm]

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