tampabay.com

Rays, top winner reach deal

By MARC TOPKIN
Published January 17, 2006


ST. PETERSBURG - As the Devil Rays continue to explore trades that could net them additional top prospects, they are also working to sign their own players who are eligible for arbitration.

Monday, they agreed to terms with left-hander Mark Hendrickson on a one-year contract for $1.95-million, giving the team's top winner a raise of more than 500 percent after going a team-best 11-8 with a 5.90 ERA last season. Hendrickson made $377,500 in 2005.

The Rays also were in talks Monday night with starter Casey Fossum and reliever Jesus Colome, trying to reach deals in advance of today's exchange of salary figures.

They are likely to have similar discussions with their three other arbitration-eligible players, first baseman Travis Lee, reliever Travis Harper and backup catcher Josh Paul, before hearings begin in February.

Meanwhile, the Rays continue talks about shortstop Julio Lugo with several teams, including the Red Sox, Cubs, Mets and Rangers.

From the Red Sox, the Rays, as they have for months, would like to acquire third-base prospect Andy Marte. From the Cubs, Mets or Rangers, they are likely to seek pitching prospects. With spring training a month away, the teams seeking Lugo, as well as rightfielder/DH Aubrey Huff, might get more serious in their interest.

"As we've stated from the beginning, our objective is to add as much pitching as we can," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "If any deal presents itself that makes sense pitching-wise or otherwise, we're prepared to make a move. If not, we're content with the way the roster is shaping up."

Also:

Outfielder Carl Crawford was one of six outfielders on the 42-man provisional roster for the U.S. team in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. A 30-man roster will be chosen just before the opening of the March 3-20 event. Joining Crawford on the initial roster, which may be updated today, are outfielders Lance Berkman, Barry Bonds, Johnny Damon, Ken Griffey and Vernon Wells.

ANGELS: Right-hander John Lackey agreed to a $3.76-million, one-year contract, avoiding arbitration.

CARDINALS: Right-handed reliever Jeff Nelson agreed to a minor-league contract with St. Louis, which needs a middle man to replace injured Al Reyes.

MARLINS: Left-hander Dontrelle Willis avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $4.35-million, one-year contract.

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