Rays exercise Zobrist's 2015 option

Versatile veteran locked in for franchise-record 10th season with Tampa Bay

Rays exercise Zobrist's 2015 option

• Hot Stove Tracker

ST. PETERSBURG -- As expected, the Rays picked up their $7.5 million club option on super-utility man Ben Zobrist on Friday.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Few tweaks could be all Rays need to improve

With new manager the priority and roster in place, Hot Stove likely quiet

Few tweaks could be all Rays need to improve

• Hot Stove Tracker

ST. PETERSBURG -- This was going to be an unusual offseason no matter what for the Rays, coming off their first sub-.500 season since 2007 with a fully intact roster that leaves little room for reconstruction. And that was before Andrew Friedman and Joe Maddon left town.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rays quartet honored with GIBBY nominations

Rays quartet honored with GIBBY nominations

ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Kiermaier, Desmond Jennings, Jose Molina and Sean Rodriguez of the Rays are among those nominated for MLB.com's Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) awards.

Major League Baseball's A-listers will take home 2014 GIBBY trophies -- the ultimate honors of the industry's awards season -- based on votes by media, front-office personnel, MLB alumni, fans at MLB.com and the Society for American Baseball Research.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rays have decisions to make heading into 2015

Pitching staff is solid, but Zobrist could be trade candidate with payroll cut expected

Rays have decisions to make heading into 2015

ST. PETERSBURG -- Heading into the 2015 season, the Rays will need a healthy dose of temperance rather than overreacting to what happened in 2014, a year in which the team appeared so much better than it performed. But some tough decisions must be made if the club wants to avoid a repeat of 2014.

Then again, with so much having changed between the end of the Rays' season and the final game of the World Series, 2015 will be unlike any season in recent Tampa Bay history.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Inbox: How do Rays look after offseason shakeup?

Beat reporter Bill Chastain answers questions from Tampa Bay fans

Inbox: How do Rays look after offseason shakeup?

Submit a question to the Inbox.

Talk about a shocking start to the offseason. First Friedman goes to the Dodgers then Maddon opts out of his contract. Wow! How do you think the Rays' former GM will do with the Dodgers? Do you think the move will affect the Rays negatively in future? And, what do you think of the guys who will be stepping up to fill roles created by Friedman's departure? Finally, how much do you think Maddon will be missed? Where do you think he'll go? And who do you think will be the Rays' next manager?
-- George B., St. Petersburg

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rays' O'Conner, Leonard named to AFL Fall Stars roster

Rosters for annual AFL event include 14 prospects from Top 100 rankings

Rays' O'Conner, Leonard named to AFL Fall Stars roster

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Make way for the next generation.

Several of the best prospects in baseball will collide on Saturday in the ninth annual Fall Stars Game, the yearly All-Star Game for the Arizona Fall League. This year's rosters feature 14 players on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list.

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Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Tampa Bay Rays release statement

"We are committed to making baseball work in the Tampa Bay region. We will do everything we can to make that happen and right now things are moving in a productive and positive direction. We have not spoken to Montreal -- or any other city, including Tampa -- about relocation at any point."

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Maddon opts out of contract, leaves Rays

Maddon opts out of contract, leaves Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- A second blow crashed down on the Rays' universe Friday afternoon, when Joe Maddon exercised an opt-out clause in his contract. He will not return to manage the team in 2015.

Maddon's decision followed Andrew Friedman, who left his post as executive vice president of baseball operations with the Rays to take a newly created position with the Dodgers as president of baseball operations.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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With Maddon out, Rays prepare for managerial search

With Maddon out, Rays prepare for managerial search

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays' initial reaction Friday was shock and disappointment. After spending so much time talking about how he wanted to manage the Rays for many more years, Joe Maddon opted out of his contract and will not return to Tampa Bay's dugout in 2015.

Now, as the initial surprise wears off, president of baseball operations Matt Silverman and the Rays' front office must move forward. What will they look for in a new manager? Who's on the short list to succeed Maddon? At what point do they need to have a replacement in place?

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Maddon breaks down decision to leave Rays

Skipper plans to remain a part of Tampa community going forward

Maddon breaks down decision to leave Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- Joe Maddon hopes Rays fans will understand his decision to exercise an opt-out clause to manage the Rays in 2015, essentially making him a free agent to field unknown offers.

"I just hope they will understand that this was a unique opportunity for me and my family, and beyond that, the charities that I'm attached to," said Maddon explaining the opportunity created by an opt-out clause in his contract that kicked in once Andrew Friedman departed for the Dodgers. "There was nothing else that I was looking for before that. Up until Andrew left I did not have this kind of opportunity whatsoever. And then once Andrew left and this opportunity opened up, I had to consider it.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rays players sad to see Maddon go, but confident about future

Rays players sad to see Maddon go, but confident about future

ST. PETERSBURG -- The reaction among Rays players seemed to be one of sorry to see Joe Maddon go while trusting that the Rays management team will make the right calls to find a suitable replacement to perpetuate the organization's excellence.

Evan Longoria came to the Rays in 2008, Maddon's third season on the job, so he is the only manager Longoria has known in his Major League career.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rookie Kiermaier recognized as AL Gold Glove finalist

Outfielder's outstanding defense earned him permanent spot after May callup

Rookie Kiermaier recognized as AL Gold Glove finalist

ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Kiermaier is a finalist for a Rawlings American League Gold Glove Award for right fielders. The announcement came Thursday afternoon via a tweet from Rawlings Sports, presenters of the award.

"Right now, I'm just in awe. I never would have expected this," Kiermaier said.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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MLB.com Columnist

Bernie Pleskoff

Rays prospect Leonard showing impressive power potential

Rays prospect Leonard showing impressive power potential

Not many professional baseball players can say they were coached in high school by a former Major League star. However, that was the case with Rays prospect Patrick Leonard.

Leonard's family moved from Florida to Houston, Tex., and Leonard got the opportunity to learn from former Astros star Craig Biggio.

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Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Fuld to host Wiffle Ball tournament to fight diabetes

Fuld to host Wiffle Ball tournament to fight diabetes

ST. PETERSBURG -- Sam Fuld no longer plays for the Rays, but the former Tampa Bay outfielder still gives back to the community.

Head of Sam Fuld's USF Diabetes Sports Camps for several years, Fuld will now bring another element of fun to the equation by hosting a Wiffle Ball tournament.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

O'Conner headlines talented group of Rays prospects in AFL

Catcher, drafted out of HS, improving skills in Fall League after banner year

O'Conner headlines talented group of Rays prospects in AFL

Teams have to be patient with high-school hitters taken in the Draft. Not everyone can be a Mike Trout or Bryce Harper in terms of their rapid progression to the big leagues.

That might go double for catchers taken from the prep ranks. Learning to hit professional pitching is hard enough; adding in the nuances of catching it as well can be a gargantuan task.

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Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rays promote Bloom, Neander to VP, baseball operations

Rays promote Bloom, Neander to VP, baseball operations

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays concluded a busy week of shuffling in upper management on Friday when Chaim Bloom and Erik Neander were each promoted to the position of vice president, baseball operations.

On Tuesday, the announcement came that Andrew Friedman had left the Rays organization to assume a newly created position with the Dodgers as president, baseball operations. The move by the ex-Rays executive vice president of baseball operations triggered a series of executive leadership changes within the organization.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rays sign right-hander Kohn to a one-year contract

Rays sign right-hander Kohn to a one-year contract

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays made their first move of the offseason on Thursday when they signed right-hander Michael Kohn to a one-year Major League contract.

Kohn's signing brings the Rays 40-man roster to its full capacity.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Team president Auld 'thrilled' with new position

Friedman's move to Dodgers led to transitions within organization

Team president Auld 'thrilled' with new position

ST. PETERSBURG -- The "new" guy isn't exactly a new guy within the Rays organization, but team president Brian Auld felt like a new guy around the media on Wednesday.

"It's been significantly more media to this point than I've done the last 10 years," said Auld of his first day on the job. "Other than that, it's been a lot of the same old, same old."

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Silverman, Auld assume new roles with Rays

Silverman, Auld assume new roles with Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg never thought "it was a matter of time" before Andrew Friedman left the Rays organization, but he understood the climate of Major League Baseball that facilitated Friedman's exodus to the Dodgers on Tuesday to assume a newly created position as president of baseball operations.

"Clearly as good as he is and as desirous as many of the teams are to have somebody who they think is as good as Andrew is, you know they'll keep coming at him and keep trying," Sternberg said. "And I guess at this point the time was just right, specifically for Andrew."

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rays' players laud Friedman's successful tenure

Cobb, Longoria say club is in great shape because of the people still in place

Rays' players laud Friedman's successful tenure

ST. PETERSBURG -- Andrew Friedman leaves a legacy of success as he departs the Rays to assume the newly created position of president of baseball operations for the the Dodgers.

With Friedman as their executive vice president of baseball operations, the Rays moved from laughingstock to pennant contender. And he did so while remaining well respected and popular in the clubhouse.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Goals, philosophy won't change with Friedman's departure

Rays expect transition to go smoothly with Sliverman, Auld changing roles

Goals, philosophy won't change with Friedman's departure

ST. PETERSBURG -- The days and weeks ahead will be somewhat unusual for Tampa Bay's front office, moving on without a close friend and the architect of Tampa Bay's most successful clubs. One key member of the Rays' braintrust is gone, and two others have assumed new titles and responsibilities.

But principal owner Stuart Sternberg and president of baseball operations Matt Silverman made two things clear Tuesday afternoon in discussing former executive vice president Andrew Friedman's departure to the Dodgers: Their goals haven't changed, nor has their philosophy.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Rays happy with returns from instructional league

Shortstop Rondon headlines talented crop of club's international prospects

Rays happy with returns from instructional league

The Tampa Bay Rays have been much more active on the international signing front in recent years, beginning with a 2012 signing period that saw them go way over the allotted $2.9 million pool each team was given to spend on international free agents that summer.

That wasn't a one-shot deal, either. They couldn't sign a player for over $250,000 in 2013 as part of the penalty for overspending in 2012, but they were aggressive once again this past summer, surpassing their pool by 75 percent (meaning they won't be able to go over $300,000 for any signing in 2015, in addition to the overage tax).

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Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Stars of tomorrow ready to shine as '14 AFL season begins

Stars of tomorrow ready to shine as '14 AFL season begins

Over its 23-year history, the Arizona Fall League has developed a reputation as a finishing school for baseball's top prospects. This year, once again, many of the game's best young players will gather in the desert, hoping to prove themselves in the same league that helped catapult Derek Jeter, Dustin Pedroia and Mike Trout to stardom.

When the AFL opens play Tuesday, the concentration of talent will again be readily apparent. Two of the three Opening Day games feature premium pitching matchups, and the third game is highlighted by two of the best shortstops in the Minor Leagues.

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Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Murphy's Law in effect for Rays in 2014

Injuries to key contributors, bullpen woes led to club's first losing record since 2007

Murphy's Law in effect for Rays in 2014

ST. PETERSBURG -- What could go wrong pretty much did for the Rays in 2014, resulting in an early offseason rather than a postseason appearance and the team's first losing record since 2007.

Leaving Port Charlotte, Fla., at the end of Spring Training, the Rays had the swagger of a champion. Particularly the team's starting pitching, which has been its strength since first making the playoffs in 2008. On paper, there seemed to be no holes with David Price heading the rotation followed by Alex Cobb, Matt Moore, Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi -- who stepped in after Jeremy Hellickson had elbow surgery in January. Unfortunately for the Rays, other injuries followed.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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MLB.com Columnist

Hal Bodley

Rays unable to find extra gear in rare lost season

Rays unable to find extra gear in rare lost season

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays kept pushing the pedal to the floor, the engine sputtered and nothing happened. That's how much of their disappointing 2014 season went.

As executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Joe Maddon sat behind microphones on Tuesday morning at Tropicana Field groping for answers for their first losing summer since 2007, they came up empty.

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Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Players pack up, uncertain of future with Rays

Peralta, Zobrist among those with options to be picked up for 2015

Players pack up, uncertain of future with Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays cleaned out their lockers on Monday afternoon at Tropicana Field, and as their offseason begins, some players said they know they could be in a different clubhouse next season.

Tampa Bay began 2014 with a franchise-record $82.1 million payroll, and owner Stuart Sternberg has said it will not be as high next year. Trading David Price certainly factors into a lower 2015 budget, but several Rays also have potential salaries that might not be picked up.

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David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rays' run production needs improving in 2015

As club heads into offseason, hitting coach Shelton expects to return

Rays' run production needs improving in 2015

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays' returned home on Monday with their 77-85 season in the books, never having produced less offense in a season than they did in 2014. An American League-low 612 runs scored were the fewest in franchise history, behind even the inaugural 1998 club's 620.

As the team's offensive woes built over the course of the season, with several players posting numbers below their norms -- Evan Longoria's early-season struggles were especially notable -- hitting coach Derek Shelton became a common target of fans' frustration. But Shelton, who is expected to remain with the Rays, said on Monday that he's OK with that, because it shows their passion.

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David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Cobb, Rays fall short in season finale vs. Tribe

Rodriguez homers, Longo has sac fly in loss

Cobb, Rays fall short in season finale vs. Tribe

CLEVELAND -- A lot of history came into play leading into the Rays' final game of the 2014 season, a 7-2 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field.

Three years ago to the day the Rays won the famous "Game 162" at Tropicana Field against the Yankees, storming back from a 7-0 deficit to win, 8-7, in 12 innings and advance to win the American League Wild Card. In addition, Sunday's Rays starter, Alex Cobb, had not pitched at Progressive Field since he started against the Indians and picked up the win in last season's AL Wild Card Game. Unfortunately for the Rays, the good karma from season's past did not carry over into Sunday's game.

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Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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