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12/12/08 10:18 PM EST

Gomes non-tendered by Rays

Tampa Bay offers contracts to five other players Friday

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jonny Gomes was not tendered a 2009 contract by the Rays on Friday, thereby making the popular outfielder/designated hitter a free agent.

The Rays had until midnight ET on Friday to tender contracts to the club's six unsigned arbitration-eligible players. Grant Balfour, Willy Aybar, Dioner Navarro, Jason Bartlett, and Gabe Gross were all tendered.

Now a free agent, Gomes can sign with any Major League team, including his former club at any price.

A player normally gets non-tendered when he is arbitration-eligible and his club decides he is not worth the salary he might command in arbitration. Had the Rays tendered Gomes a contract, they could not have cut more than 20 percent off the $1.275 million he earned in 2008, when he hit .182 with eight home runs and 21 RBIs in 77 games for the Rays.

Gomes, 28, has spent parts of six seasons in the Major Leagues, all with the Rays. His 66 career home runs rank fifth in Rays history and first among the team's right-handed hitters. He holds the franchise record for most times hit by a pitch (35) and catwalks hit at Tropicana Field (eight). His 21 home runs as a rookie in 2005 are a career high, and stood as a club rookie record until it was surpassed by Evan Longoria this season.

Gomes was an 18th-round selection by the Rays in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.