Rays Notes: The Fernando Rodney Extension That Wasn’t, Title XX-B Free Agents

By Robbie Knopf

Rays fans got quite a surprise on Wednesday night when Fernando Rodney told the Dominican newspaper El Día that his agent was working with the Rays the finishing touches on a contract extension that would keep Rodney in a Rays uniform through 2015. However, just minutes after writing up the story, Topkin talked to the Rays, who responded with not a confirmation, not a “no comment”, but utter confusion- the Rays and Rodney weren’t even in extension talks. What is going on? Topkin suggested that either there was some miscommunication between Rodney and his agent, Dan Lozano, or that he was misquoted. Rodney wasn’t misquoted, he said pretty clearly in Spanish that “Everything is ready. Today we’re going to announce an extension with the Rays for two years.” So what in the world is happening? Hate to say it, but your first thought has to be a Manti Te’o situation, right? Does Dan Lozano even exist? (He does- included among his clients are players like Albert Pujols and Joey Votto.) Is Rodney lying? (Why would he?) Did anybody die? (Apparently not.) What’s Deadspin saying? (Nothing.) Is El Día even a real website? Included in the article is this sentence: “salario por  2,5 millones de dólares, que es muy bajo”- which translates to “a 2.5 million dollar salary, which is very low.” Would any real journalist say that? (Well, I’m not technically a real journalist, so I’m not qualified to answer.) Does anyone have any information? At this point, there are a whole lot more questions than answers, and hopefully things will become more clear over the next few days.

In non-bizarre news, Matt Eddy of Baseball America mentioned in the comment section of a recent article that two players the Rays signed as minor league free agents this offseason, right-handers Jamie Wright and Juan Oviedo, are Title XX-B free agents, which means that they will receive a $100,000 bonus if they start the season in the minors and have a June 1st opt-out date if they’re still in the minors at that time. Oviedo is hurt, having undergone Tommy John Surgery last year that will sideline him until August, so this is probably irrelevant for him, but Wright is going to be interesting. Wright is a sinkerballing reliever with the ability to slide right into the role vacated by the trade of Burke Badenhop, and his title XX-B status may give an inside track for the final spot in the Rays bullpen. Wright put up a 3.72 ERA in 66 appearances for the Dodgers in 2012, managing an outstanding 67.3% groundball rate, so him landing a spot in the Rays’ pen would be far from a bad thing.

Talked about in the Baseball America article itself was that the Arizona Diamondbacks have signed former Rays minor leaguer Chris Nowak. We covered Nowak quite a bit in our Winter Ball Recaps here at RCG as he put up huge numbers, managing a.311/.442/.513 line with 6 home runs and a 22-21 strikeout to walk ratio for the Navegantes de Magallanes, who went onto win the Venezuelan Winter League championship. Nowak, who the Rays’ drafted back in the 19th round of the 2004 MLB Draft, played 2012 in unaffiliated leagues after 8 years in the Rays and Brewers organizations, and it’s great to see him back in a major league organization continuing to pursue his dream of playing in the major leagues.