The Tampa Bay Rays signed six players to minor league deals including, infielders Mike Fontenot, Nick Weglarz and Shawn O’Malley; right-handers Matt Buschmann and Will Inman; and outfielder Rich Thompson.
Fontenot probably the biggest name of the group has played seven years in the major leagues with the Cubs, Giants, and Phillies. Fontenot hit .289 in 105 at-bats with Philadelphia and .308 in 58 at-bats at the Triple-A level this past season.
Thompson returns the Rays, after being acquired last May in a trade that sent minor leaguer Kyle Hudson to the Phillies. Thompson played in 23 games with Tampa Bay and was used primarily as a pinch runner.
Weglarz, 24, hit .239 with 14 home runs, 58 RBIs and 58 walks in 109 games with Double-A Akron in 2012.
Buschmann, 28, spent last season in the Rays organization, going 7-8 with a 3.98 ERA in 26 appearances (24 starts) between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham.
O’Malley hit .240 with 18 stolen bases at Montgomery and Durham, and Inman went 1-3 with a 2.23 ERA across 48 1/3 innings (35 appearances) for Triple-A Pawtucket of Boston’s farm system this past year.
It’s likely that all six players will provide organizational depth for Tampa Bay.
The Rays lost longtime centerfielder B.J. Upton to the Atlanta Braves through free agency, are in need of a first baseman to replace Carlos Pena, and are looking for an everyday catcher to help Jose Molina.
Reportedly Tampa Bay was one of seven teams interested in free-agent center fielder Shane Victorino and team is interested along with the Cubs, Diamondbacks and Yankees in Jeff Keppinger. Jayson Stark reports that the Rays are one of six teams interested in recently released Ryan Raburn.
As usual the pitching rich Rays, with David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, Chris Archer, Alex Cobb have been the subject of many speculative deals by media and fans, and of course most think the team should trade some pitching for hitting.
Freidman discounts the notion that the Rays have to trade pitching, but seems more open to the possibility this off-season.
Cy Young winner Price has had his name tossed about in rumors as well.
One thing you can be sure of, the Rays play everything close to the vest with regard to transactions and trades. With the winter meetings right around the corner trade talk will be fast and furious.
For Rays fans is likely to be more hurry up and wait.