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  1. Rays

Rays expected to pursue catcher Welington Castillo

Published Dec. 3, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG — There were no surprises Friday as the Rays tendered contracts to all of their majors-most 11 arbitration-eligible players.

But an unexpected decision by the Diamondbacks not to tender Welington Castillo put the Rays in position to fill one of their main offseason goals in landing a proven catcher.

The Rays have definite interest and are expected to aggressively pursue Castillo, 29, who hit .264 with 14 homers, 68 RBIs and a .745 OPS in 113 games last year. Castillo, considered an average pitch framer, was projected to make $5.9 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility.

The Rays made room on the 40-man roster, for Castillo or another acquisition (such as a Rule 5 draft pick), by nontendering infielder Ryan Brett, who missed last season with injury.

The 11 arbitration eligible are projected to make around $35 million. That includes three who qualified under the Super 2 provision based on service time: Gold Glove winning centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier, reliever Danny Farquhar and infielder Tim Beckham.

Kiermaier, whose two years and 131 days service was believed to be right at the cutoff, will make an additional $2 million, with a projected salary of $2.5 million to $3 million rather than the $540,000 or so he was in line for.

Also, Kiermaier, Faquahar and Beckham get to be eligible for arbitration four times rather than the standard three.

The full list, including projected salaries:

Left-hander Drew Smyly ($7 million), right-hander Alex Cobb ($4-5M), right-hander Erasmo Ramirez ($3-4M), infielder Brad Miller ($3-4M), right-hander Jake Odorizzi ($3-4M), outfielder Corey Dickerson ($3-4M), Kiermaier ($2.5-3M), right-hander Brad Boxberger ($1-1.5M), left-hander Xavier Cedeno ($800K-$1.5M), Farquhar ($800K-$1.5M), Beckham ($800K-$1.5M).

Rays hire Figueroa

During a nine-year pro career that included parts of three seasons in the majors, including 2014 with the Rays, infielder Cole Figueroa's interests in the game always extended beyond playing.

Now Figueroa, 29, will get to explore those areas after joining the Rays front office as a baseball development assistant, with assorted duties and responsibilities including bridging the analytical/onfield information gap.

"It's something I've always been interested in and I got the opportunity to do that so I jumped at it,'' he said. "I think I'll end up touching a lot of different areas initially.''

Marc Topkin can be reached at mtopkin@tampabay.com.

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