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Rays wait to expand roster on the cheap

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 19, 2003

With the signing last week of infielder Marlon Anderson, the Devil Rays probably are done making additions to the big-league roster this offseason.

With the players they wanted going elsewhere, they'll likely shelve their pursuit of a veteran outfielder, at least until teams start cutting players loose in spring training. And with the price of pitching erratic, they'll probably keep trolling for veterans willing to take minor-league (read: no-risk to the team) deals for a low base salary.

That's how they got Steve Parris, who might end up in the opening week rotation. Parris will get $400,000 if he makes the roster with a chance to make an additional $500,000 in incentives that kick in when he makes his 18th start.

The Rays talked about similar deals with Rolando Arrojo and St. Petersburg product Jeff D'Amico, but both took a little more money and headed to Pittsburgh. Mike DiFelice did the same when he went to Kansas City.

GM Chuck LaMar doesn't have much room to operate, trying to stay within Vince Naimoli's rapidly shrinking payroll, which likely will be less than $30-million, including the $4.25-million they get from the Mets. There is still an arbitration case to settle with Dan Reichert (he filed for $600,000; the Rays offered $450,000), and they want to save a little money for another pitcher. Plus, it's possible they'll release Greg Vaughn, eating his $9.25-million salary, and need another outfielder.

E-BUD: We know last season's All-Star Game was a fiasco. But exactly how is Bud Selig's latest brainstorm -- to have homefield advantage in the World Series determined by which league wins the midsummer classic -- a good idea?

By mid July less than half of the teams will have a chance to make the playoffs, making the issue irrelevant for many, if not most, of the All-Stars. Plus, the starters, who in theory are from the better teams, are usually long gone from the game after a few innings.

So is it really going to matter to an All-Star from a team such as the Brewers, or the Pirates, or the, uh, Devil Rays, who gets homefield advantage in the World Series? Not a bit.

TAKE THAT: The Yankees can play it straight all they want about the deal that sent Orlando Hernandez to the White Sox, but be assured their primary goal was to make sure Bartolo Colon didn't end up with Boston.

And when the Red Sox refused to include left-hander Casey Fossum in a deal with Montreal -- remember that name when reflecting on Boston's missed opportunity -- the Yankees were more than happy to give the White Sox what they needed to land Colon, including $2-million.

"If Boston actually was in on Colon and was close to trying to acquire him, then it's a fringe benefit," Yankees GM Brian Cashman said. Sure it was.

MISCELLANY: The $750,000 John Flaherty got in a minor-league deal with the Yankees was less than the Rays offered him to stay, but he wanted the chance to be with a contender and play in his native New York. ... Paul Wilson's two-year deal with the Reds will pay him $500,000 this season and $2.5-million in 2004. ... Yes, that was the Wilson Alvarez agreeing to a $750,000 minor-league deal with the Dodgers.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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