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Rays make bid to Everett

By MARC TOPKIN
Published December 10, 2003

ST. PETERSBURG - The Devil Rays made a pitch to free-agent outfielder Carl Everett on Tuesday. Now they have to see if the Tampa native is interested in making a home run.

Neither side would disclose specifics of the opening offer. It is likely to be for one year plus an option and probably for less than half the $9.15-million Everett made last season with the Rangers and White Sox.

Agent Larry Reynolds headed back to his California home planning to make a counteroffer later in the week. "We met, they made an offer and we'll respond at the appropriate time," he said.

The Rays are willing to wait, but general manager Chuck LaMar made it clear he has other options, specifically Juan Gonzalez and Jose Cruz.

"We're going to sign a hitter and we're going to sign that hitter hopefully in the near future," LaMar said. "I think we'll know within the next two-three days whether Carl feels like our proposal - and there's always negotiations to be had - but I think we'll have a feel whether we're in the ballpark and whether we have a chance to sign Carl or not.

"If the answer is yes, we'll be honored to have him. If it's no, we're going to go and sign us a hitter."

Alan Nero, who represents Gonzalez as well as Rays manager Lou Piniella, said about 10 teams, including the Yankees and Braves, have expressed interested in the slugger.

"Juan would be very interested in playing for Tampa Bay and playing for Lou," Nero said. "He's very familiar with Lou and the coaching staff and would be very comfortable there. At this point we have not solicited or received any offers."

The market for Gonzalez may be slow to unfold. The Red Sox may be interested if they trade Manny Ramirez and the Yankees may be interested if the Gary Sheffield deal falls through.

The Rays are looking to make several additions but first want to fill the hole in their lineup so they know how much money they have left and what complementary pieces they need.

NOTES: Tickets to the April 9 home opener vs. Baltimore will go on sale 9 a.m. Saturday at www.devilrays.com and www.ticketmaster.com ... LaMar will host a Web chat today at 4 p.m. on devilrays.com. ... The $1.7-million, two-year deal with outfielder/infielder Eduardo Perez should be official after he has a physical today. ... An official announcement on the season-opening trip to Japan likely won't be made until the winter meetings, which open Friday. ... Former Rays first baseman Steve Cox agreed to a one-year deal with the Cardinals.

- Information from Times wires was used in this report.

[Last modified December 10, 2003, 01:34:25]

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