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Rays, Iwamura Close to a Deal

A quickie here, as I am pressed for time, but the morning newspaper delivers some good news for Devil Rays fans. The St. Petersburg Times reports that Japanese import Akinori Iwamura and the Rays are close to the completion of a deal that will ensure Iwamura plays in St. Pete next season. Iwamura's agent, Alan Nero, says the issues have been "pretty much resolved", and that a deal should probably be complete in advance of Friday night's deadline. Marc Topkin reports that the major sticking point was apparently contract length, with the Rays wanting six years and Nero less, like the three years afforded to White Sox 2B Tadihito Iguchi when he came to the United States two years ago. Both sides apparently made considerable concessions, and the deal apparently could be for three years and somewhere around $10 million, with a one year option. That does not include the $4.55 million posting fee the Rays will have to pay to Iwamura's Yakult Japanese League team.

Personally, I don't know why the Rays would want a long-term deal. It only ties them up with respect to playing time that could be given to prospects over the next several years, and a six year deal would handcuff the team's flexibility over the next several years. A three year deal is fine for me, like the one afforded to Iguchi. I don't see why this had to be a sticking point.

Meanwhile, the Times reports that free agents of interest that were not tendered a contract by their parent club include Jason Bulger, Scott Dohmann, Joel Pinero, Chris Reitsma, Todd Williams, and as R.J. mentioned, possibly Marcus Giles. The team is also expected to finalize an agreement to play the May 15-17 series against the Texas Rangers at Disney World. And for you Damon Hollins lovers, he was reported as getting a lot of interest on the open market when he was non-tendered by Tampa Bay, though I can't see why.

More to come later on, but I am pressed for time at the moment.

Update [2006-12-14 16:18:56 by R.J. Anderson]: The deal is close to being finalized, the projected numbers are 3 years (Option fourth year) and a little over 10 million along with the 4.55 million to the Swallows.