Friday, January 18, 2008

Rays sign Carlos Pena, Dan Wheeler & Jonny Gomes, Trade for Willy Aybar

The Rays seem to make moves in bunches, and this week is no exception. The Rays started the week by agreeing to terms with RP Dan Wheeler on a 1 yr $2.875 Million deal. They continued working with their arbitration eligible players, agreeing to a 1 yr $1.25 deal with DH/RF Jonny Gomes. However, they've saved the two biggest deals for last. First, the team just announced they have come to terms with 2007 team MVP Carlos Pena on 3 yr $24 Million dollar deal. Pena, the 2007 MLB Comeback player of the year, set team records with 46 homeruns and 121 RBI. The deal keeps Pena with the Rays through 2010. The other big deal was the acquistion of utility man Willy Aybar from the Braves. Along with Aybar the Rays will receive minor league INF Chase Fontaine in return for Lefty Reliever Jeff Ridgway. Aybar fills a huge void for the Rays by being able to play three infield positions right away. The Rays also plan to get him some work at first base and the corner outfield positions in spring training. The Rays still need a lefty reliever, but obviously were convinced Ridgway was not the answer.

The lone bad news of the week is Scott Kazmir expects to end up in arbitration against the Rays.

"All we can do is really prepare ourselves because they have the file and trial policy,'' Kazmir said. "I guess you just gotta go. They made it loud and clear. ...

"If we go to arbitration, which it kind of looks like right now, so be it. It's just what we have to do. Sure, it would be nice to have everything settled right now and not have anything to worry about.''