Arrojo agrees to year, ponders longer deal
By MARC TOPKIN
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 3, 1999
All-Star right-hander Rolando Arrojo agreed to terms on a one-year contract worth $240,000, but his agent said a larger and longer deal could be in the works soon.
Agent Joe Cubas said he expects to open talks in the next few months on a long-term deal that could keep Arrojo, 30, with the Rays for the remainder of his career.
"Basically I think we have a general understanding of what the future holds for Rolando in Tampa Bay," Cubas said. "We have a general understanding that if he's healthy and continues to pitch the way he has, that we'll get together in April or May and start hammering out a long-term deal. Rolando wants to be here on a long-term basis."
The Rays signed six others to one-year deals: C Mike DiFelice, IFs Aaron Ledesma and Bobby Smith and OFs Carlos Mendoza, Bubba Trammell and Randy Winn. They renewed contracts of three players who did not agree to terms: 2B Miguel Cairo and RHPs Rick White and Esteban Yan. Terms were not disclosed.
Cairo and Yan had impressive rookie seasons. White joined the team May 31 and after three rough starts performed well in a relief role: 2-3 with a 2.98 ERA. He received a $5,000 raise from his $250,000 salary last season. By not agreeing to terms, he forfeited an incentives package that could have netted him an additional $20,000.
"We felt like I sacrificed quite a bit to sign here in '97, when I could have possibly gotten some big-league time somewhere else," White said. "My agent (Casey Close) said not to sign and I go by what he says."
Cubas said there wasn't much haggling over the one-year deal, which slots Arrojo into the team salary structure, because of the potential of the longer deal. Arrojo, who received a $7-million signing bonus after defecting from Cuba, won 14 games last season and was runner-up in the AL Rookie of the Year voting.
"We're very happy with the conversations we had," Cubas said. "Chuck (LaMar, general manager) and Vince (Naimoli, managing general partner) have been more than pleasant, more than fair. I have tremendous confidence Vince and Chuck are going to get it done."
Team officials have not negotiated during the season, but LaMar said there could be exceptions. "There's no question what we think of him on and off the field and the job he's done for us," LaMar said. "He didn't pitch as well in the second half as he did in the first, so we're going to watch him in spring training and the early part of the season. It would not surprise me if we open up talks."
GAME TIME: The Rays entertain the University of Miami at 1:05 today at Al Lang Field. Grapefruit League play begins Friday at Viera against the Marlins with LHP Wilson Alvarez on the mound. The home opener is Saturday against the Braves, who will start NL Cy Young Award winner Tom Glavine.
RAY BITS: Chief financial officer Ray Naimoli, 56-year-old brother of Vince, is resting in a Phoenix-area hospital after emergency surgery on Monday. . . . OF Rich Butler was given permission to return to Toronto for personal reasons. . . . McGriff, Winn, Paul Sorrento, and Aaron Ledesma took time to read Dr. Seuss books to schoolchildren as part of Read Across America Day. . . . OF Luke Wilcox was also excused; his wife is expecting.