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Rays Sign Wheeler to Three Year Deal; Make Option Decisions

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Per a team press release, the Rays have signed reliever Dan Wheeler to a three year deal that will ensure his presence in Tampa Bay's bullpen through the 2010 season. The team also announced that they have exercised the option on LF Carl Crawford's contract for the 2009 season, while declining that same option on CF Rocco Baldelli's contract.

Wheeler's contract guarantees him $10.5 million over this season and the two succeeding it. In addition, there is a club option for 2011. The deal includes the usual monetary commitment to the team's charitable foundation, which totals $150,000 over the life of the deal. That amount rises to $225,000 if the Rays invoke Wheeler's option year.

Meanwhile, the option decisions on the contracts of Crawford and Baldelli were necessitated by the April 1st deadlines in their contracts. By invoking the 2009 option on Crawford's deal, the team will pay him $8.25 million for his services that season. The exercised option year is one of two on the contract that Crawford signed just before the 2005 season. The other is a $10 million option the team would need to invoke for Crawford to stay another season in a Rays uniform.

As for Baldelli, that the team would decline its option on him was a foregone conclusion after he sustained injury earlier this spring. In fact, the team probably wouldn't have exercised the option even if he was healthy, given his disappointing performance and injury problems last season. By declining the $6 million option on the injured outfielder's deal, the team triggered a $4 million buyout payment. Baldelli's future status is unclear given his current placement on the 60 Day DL due to a Mitochondrial disorder that has severely affected the recovery time of his muscles