Crawford in, Baldelli out for 2009 Rays
Team picks up All-Star's $8.25M option, declines Baldelli's
BALTIMORE -- The Rays announced Tuesday they were picking up Carl Crawford's option and declining Rocco Baldelli's option for the 2009 season.
Crawford, 26, signed a four-year deal worth $15.25 million prior to the start of the 2005 season that included team options for 2009 and 2010. The 2009 option that the Rays exercised for the two-time American League All-Star is worth $8.25 million; the buyout would have been $2.5 million. The option for the 2010 season is for $10 million, with a $1.5 million buyout.
"I'm very happy," said Crawford in a statement released by the club. "I would like to thank the Rays' organization and [principal owner] Stu Sternberg for believing in me. I'm grateful for the opportunity for this day. I'm looking forward to being here for a long time, because I think we're at the start of something great going on here. I want to do well for them and represent the team in a classy manner."
Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the original deal was good for both sides.
"From our perspective, we hope he'll be here a long time," Friedman said.
Crawford is beginning his seventh season in the Major Leagues, and is the longest-tenured Ray in club history. He has a .296 career average with 62 home runs, 378 RBIs and 278 stolen bases. He hit .315 with 11 home runs, 80 RBIs and an American League-tying 50 stolen bases in 2007.
Crawford now has four 50-steal seasons and four AL stolen base crowns in his career. The lifetime .296 hitter is the Rays' all-time leader in hits (991), at-bats (3,348), runs scored (491), stolen bases (278) and triples (74). Since 2003, he leads the Majors with 68 triples, and ranks second behind only Juan Pierre (289) with 269 stolen bases.
Baldelli, who is on the 60-day disabled list with a mitochondrial disorder that has kept him in a constant state of fatigue, has not played since last May. Under the terms of the long-term contract he signed after the 2005 season, the Rays had until April 1 to decide whether to pick up his $6 million option for the 2009 season. By declining the option, Tampa Bay must pay him $4 million, and Baldelli will become a free agent at the end of the 2008 season. Had the Rays exercised the option, the team would have had to face the same question of whether to renew him for 2010 and 2011 at a cost of $17 million, or buy him out at $2 million.
Baldelli has a .282 career average in four Major League seasons with 48 home runs and 221 RBIs; he hit just .204 with five home runs and 12 RBIs in 35 games in 2007.
Friedman talked to Baldelli before making the decision, and noted the Rays have not ruled out trying to re-sign the outfielder once his physical problems are behind him.
"Right now the most important thing is to address Rocco's health situation," Friedman said. "Once we move past that, we'll do everything in our power to keep him a Ray."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.