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Tampa Bay Rays Reach Agreements and Avoid Arbitration with Relievers Lance Cormier & Randy Choate

Nothing unexpected here.

Cormier was actually a victim of non-tender circumstance around this point last year with the Baltimore Orioles. That decisions is worth nothing for two reasons. 1) It showcases that there is some talent to be had from this time of the year and 2) Cormier pitched almost identically to last season. His FIP went up slightly, from 4.04 to 4.18, and his xFIP from 4.3 to 4.59, but he did his job as a mop-up man with the ability to get groundballs. Cormier pounds the zone with a high-80s fastball while employing secondary pitches like his curve, cutter, and slider. His breaking pitches get whiffs, his fastballs don't. Regardless, a ridiculous 79% of Cormier's cutters went for strikes last year - either swings and misses, called, or fouls - that type of factoid makes his return worthwhile within itself.

Choate was a minor league signing for depth purposes who wound up taking the job by force once Brian Shouse went down to injury. He is what he is. Against lefties he can manage some modest strikeout and walk rates as well as a fair groundball rate. Last year's 65% is higher than career norms, and his FIP and xFIP totals were off the charts for him. Choate threw the highest percentage of fastballs in his career so it'll be interesting to see how he embarks on his second season back in the American League East next season. He will make $700k.

Both were arbitration eligible, and avoid it with such agreements. The Rays have until midnight to offer arbitration, reach agreements, trade, or officially non-tender Matt Garza, B.J. Upton, J.P. Howell, Grant Balfour, Jason Bartlett, Kelly Shoppach, Dioner Navarro, and Gabe Gross. The latter two seem to be the ones in danger of ending their Rays tenure at the stroke of midnight.