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Rays add to talent pool with 26 international signings

Also, news on a new pitcher, spring game tickets, and the arbitration standoff.
New Rays outfield signee Brailer Guerrero poses with Dominican Republic scouting supervisor Danny Santana.
New Rays outfield signee Brailer Guerrero poses with Dominican Republic scouting supervisor Danny Santana. [ Tampa Bay Rays ]
Published Jan. 17|Updated Jan. 17

ST. PETERSBURG — As the Rays get ready for the fast-arriving 2023 season, they also are working ahead.

This week, that included adding 26 teenaged players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Colombia at the opening of the international signing period.

The group is headlined by Brailer Guerrero, a 16-year-old lefty-swinging rightfielder who — though not related to the Vladimir Guerrero family — projects to be an impactful offensive player. He is rated the 12th-best prospect in the class by mlb.com.

The Rays gave him $3.7 million, more than half their assigned bonus pool of $6,366,900 and what is expected to be the fifth-highest bonus paid overall.

“Brailer is an exciting offensive prospect with good feel to hit and the ability to impact the baseball from the left side,” said Rays vice president and assistant general manager Carlos Rodriguez. “We see not just a young player with power, but an evolving hitter that has a chance to be a real run producer. He possesses ‘plus’ bat speed and the ability to drive the ball to all fields. He’s also a great worker and someone that we project to be a solid defender.”

Guerrero, who was signed by scouts Danny Santana and Remmy Hernandez, already has the physical tools, listed at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds.

New Rays pitching prospect Jose Urbina was accompanied by his parents when he signed his contract.
New Rays pitching prospect Jose Urbina was accompanied by his parents when he signed his contract. [ Tampa Bay Rays ]

Other signees of note include Dominican infielders Wilian Trinidad ($500,000) and Jose Monzon ($300,000), and Venezuelan right-hander Jose Urbina ($210,000), who Rodriguez also praised.

“Blessed with some of the best arm speed in the class, we think Jose has an extremely high ceiling with three potential ‘plus’ pitches and a power starter profile,” Rodriguez said. “He’s athletic and repeats his delivery well. In terms of ingredients to project on, Urbina has them.”

Also signed were:

Catchers: Carlos De Sousa, Yirer Garcia, Alfredo Rodriguez, Wilson Suarez, Jose Tovar

Infielders: Railin Tea Bonebil, Kleiver Chauran, Yohangel Moris, Alberth Palma

Outfielders: Alan Frias, Alfonzo Martinez, Moises Moreno, John Santana

Pitchers: Baldemix Cabrera, Jhoan De Los Santos, Oliver Eusebio, Frailin Florian, Jhomber Jimenez, Javier Lendof, Diego Palacios, Miguel Toscano, Keyner Zuniga

Former Yankees pitcher signed

Right-handed reliever Braden Bristo, who spent the last two seasons with the Yankees’ Triple-A team, signed a minor-league contract. Bristo was 3-3 with a 4.56 ERA, 64 strikeouts and 31 walks in 53-1/3 innings over 41 games last season.

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The Rays previously signed right-hander Colten Brewer and catcher Nick Dini to similar deals. Also, catcher Roberto Alvarez, who played last season at Double-A Montgomery, was re-signed to a minor-league contract.

Spring tickets on sale Friday

Tickets for the Rays’ 13 exhibition games at Tropicana Field and the Feb. 28 game vs. the Yankees at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex will go on sale to the general public Friday at 10 a.m. via raysbaseball.com and the MLB Ballpark app. Pre-sales will be held Thursday for season members, spring season ticket holders and subscribers to the Rays Insider newsletter.

The Rays are splitting spring training between the Disney complex and Tropicana Field this year due to extensive damage to their Port Charlotte complex caused by Hurricane Ian. See raysbaseball.com for the schedule. All home games will start at 1:05 p.m.

Arbitration standoff

Outfielder/designated hitter Harold Ramirez, left, and infielder Yandy Diaz, right, are among seven players with whom the Rays will go to arbitration.
Outfielder/designated hitter Harold Ramirez, left, and infielder Yandy Diaz, right, are among seven players with whom the Rays will go to arbitration. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

The Rays will go to a team-record seven arbitration hearings over a total of $2.85 million. Exchange figures reported by mlb.com show the largest gap is with starter Jeffrey Springs ($850,000) and the smallest with reliever Colin Poche ($125,000). By team policy, the Rays halt negotiations once figures are exchanged. Hearings will take place Jan. 30-Feb. 17 in St. Petersburg, with a three-member panel picking one of the numbers.

Here are the salary filings:

Reliever Jason Adam $1.775 million, team $1.55 million

Infielder Yandy Diaz $6.3 million, team $5.55 million

Reliever Pete Fairbanks $1.9 million, team $1.5 million

Reliever Colin Poche $1.3 million, team $1.175 million

Outfielder/DH Harold Ramirez $2.2 million, team $1.9 million

Starter Jeffrey Springs $3.55 million, team $2.7 million

Reliever Ryan Thompson $1.2 million, team $1 million

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