From Ken Rosenthal:
Talk about timing. Just after PGP had us talking about Choate this morning - and it was decided we'd be better off letting him go and taking the pick - Choate signs a major league deal with the Marlins. If those are indeed the terms of the contract, then it's probably for the best that the Rays decided to let him go; Choate was valuable to the Rays this past season, but the Rays can find other LOOGYs (Left-Handed One Out Guys) out there for cheaper than $2.5M.
Randy Choate signed with the Rays last off-season as a free agent, and the Rays paid him a grand total of $700,000. A year later, that $700K has gone a long way. It provided the Rays with 44 innings of above-average relief work (4.23 ERA, 3.50 FIP), not to mention the Rays now get another sandwich pick in the 2011 amateur draft. That gives the Rays six draft picks within the first 100 picks, with the likelihood of increasing that number even further.
Yet again, the Rays managed to turn a player that they found on the scrap heaps into a valuable contributor, extracting every bit of value from the dollars they spend. This is the Rays' modus operandi, and we can expect to see similar under-the-radar moves coming up this off-season. Who will be this year's Randy Choate? This year's Dan Johnson? Only time will tell.