tampabay.com

Rays secure Fossum but lose grip on 3B prospect Marte

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published January 24, 2006


The Devil Rays got a mixed bag of news Monday.

The team avoided arbitration with pitcher Casey Fossum by signing the left-hander to a two-year contract with a one-year option. But it also may have lost its chance to acquire Andy Marte.

The Boston Globe reported the Red Sox agreed, in principle, to trade the coveted third-base prospect to the Indians as part of a six-player deal. The Rays wanted Marte in trade for shortstop Julio Lugo, who now is much more likely to start the season with Tampa Bay.

Fossum, 28, who received a $50,000 signing bonus, said pitching coach Mike Butcher told him he will start the season in the rotation. He will make $2-million next season and $2.2-million in 2007 with incentives that could add another $800,000.

The club has a 2008 option which would pay $3-million with what could be $1-million in incentives. If it declines, Fossum gets a $300,000 buyout.

"I just really appreciate the commitment they made to me," said Fossum, who made $950,000 in 2005. "I think it's going to be a fun year."

Fossum, 8-12 last season with a 4.92 ERA in 36 outings, including 25 starts, had career highs in victories, innings pitched (1622/3) and strikeouts (128).

He said he and wife Kim committed to donate $125,000 over the contract's three years to the Rays of Hope Foundation.

"It's something we wanted to do," Fossum said. "The Devil Rays made that commitment to me and we just wanted to do something to give back and really help the community."

The Rays are still negotiating to avoid arbitration with pitchers Jesus Colome and Travis Harper, catcher Josh Paul and first baseman Travis Lee.

With the Globe reporting the Red Sox are pursuing former Marlins shortshop Alex Gonzalez, the Rays could intensify negotiations with the Cubs, Mets and Rangers, who are believed interested in Lugo. Chicago could offer pitching prospect Rich Hill; the Mets, pitcher Aaron Heilman.

"We will continue to monitor the trade and free-agent markets," Friedman said without giving specifics. "If there is a move that makes sense for us, we are prepared to move, and we will continue these efforts through spring training and into the season."

REDS GM FIRED: General manager Dan O'Brien was fired by new Reds owner Bob Castellini.

WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC: Barry Bonds pulled out of the tournament, saying he didn't want to risk an injury that could jeopardize the season ... Players preparing for the tournament may report to spring training as early as Feb.1.

WELLS ATTACKER SURRENDERS: Rocco Graziosa, who punched David Wells in a diner, surrendered to finish his sentence for misdemeanor assault.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.