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Thursday, Sep 21, 2017
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Tampa Bay Rays sign four players to one-year deals

ST. PETERSBURG - The Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration Friday with their four remaining arbitration-eligible players by agreeing to one-year deals with each. The Rays signed pitcher Jeff Niemann for $3 million, infielder Ryan Roberts for $2.95 million, plus incentives, and outfielders Matt Joyce for $2.45 million and Sam Fuld for $725,000. The Rays had avoided arbitration earlier in the offseason with 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner David Price and infielder Sean Rodriguez by signing each to one-year contracts — Price for $10.1125 million and Rodriguez for $1 million. "You know how it is, nobody wants to go to arbitration and that includes the team and the players," Joyce said.
The Rays are a perfect 6-for-6 in arbitration hearings, including 5-0 under the current ownership. Niemann, who lost in arbitration last February, made $2.75 million last season. The right-hander was 2-3 with a 3.08 ERA in eight starts, missing most of the season with a fractured right fibula. He returned to make one start in September but was shut down because of tightness in his right arm. Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Niemann's arm is healthy and he will be ready when spring training begins Feb. 13. Roberts avoided arbitration in 2012 by agreeing to a one-year, $2.0125 million deal with his former team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Roberts hit .235 (103-for-439) with 12 home runs, 52 RBIs and 10 stolen bases in 143 games combined games with the Diamondbacks and the Rays. Fuld made $489,400 last season. Fuld missed the first 96 games of the season while recovering from surgery to repair ligaments in his right wrist, an injury that originally occurred in September 2011. He played in 44 games and hit .255 with seven stolen bases and 14 runs scored. Joyce, who hit .241 with 17 home runs, 59 RBIs and a career-high 55 walks in 124 games played last season, received the biggest raise of the four who agreed to terms Friday, jumping from $499,500 he made in 2012 to the $2.45 million he will make this season. "I'm happy, relieved and definitely feel comfortable and excited going into this year," Joyce said. "The Rays have a lot of confidence in me." BLUE JAYS: Catcher Josh Thole agreed to a $2.5 million, two-year contract. GIANTS: Reigning NL MVP and batting champion Buster Posey reached agreement on a one-year contract that avoided salary arbitration. Posey will get $8 million next season. Outfielder Hunter Pence also reached a $13.8 million, one-year agreement. INDIANS: Cleveland signed All-Star closer Chris Perez to a $7.3 million, one-year contract. ORIOLES: Baltimore agreed to terms with All-Star catcher Matt Wieters, infielder Chris Davis and pitchers Brian Matusz and Troy Patton. RED SOX: Boston signed outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a $9 million, one-year deal, avoiding arbitration.

rmooney@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7227 Twitter: @RMooneyTBO
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