There were a couple bullpen-related news items today. First of all, Marc Topkin had this to report from the GM meetings:
Word at GM meetings in Orlando is that interest is strong in free-agent relievers Joaquin Benoit and Randy Choate, which isn't good for the Rays' hopes of re-signing either. Grant Balfour is in a different category - and remains a possibility to return - as a Type A free agent.
There have been conflicting reports so far this off-season, with some people claiming Benoit may slip under the radar while others claiming that teams are lining up for him. The more news that comes out like this, the more likely it is that he won't be a Ray next season. I am surprised that Randy Choate is garnering such strong interest, but he was one of the more effective, proven left-handed relievers on the market.
Andrew Friedman also took some time to answer a couple questions for MLB Trade Rumors, talking about what he'd consider a productive off-season for the Rays:
"That we were able to add a meaningful number of bullpen arms," Friedman told MLBTR."Some with guaranteed deals, some on Spring Training invites and just have the options in house for us to pick and fill out a bullpen. Also to add a bat or two to the mix that helps balance us out offensively and ideally have an extended term of control beyond just 2011 [for the hitter] in an ideal world. Ideally. You asked for ideally. It may not play out that way; we may get a guy on a one-year deal and that's fine."
Friedman also goes on to talk about how he anticipates the bullpen coming together, giving the classic political answer: saying a lot while saying nothing at the same time. In short, the Rays are looking at reliever trade targets, free agents, and minor league free agents - and our final 'pen will be a combination of all three. Makes sense, no?