ST. PETERSBURG -- Damon Hollins became the lone Devil Rays player not tendered a contract by Tuesday's midnight deadline. The 32-year-old outfielder is now a free agent.
"We obviously have a lot of depth on our roster in the outfield," Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "This is a situation with the talent that we have; we did not think as our roster stood right now that he would make our club. Anyone who knows Damon knows he's a top-notch guy. And we're rooting for him to have much success in the future."
Hollins' departure leaves the Rays with an outfield of Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli and Delmon Young, while likely signaling a good chance for talented prospect Elijah Dukes to make the team in the spring.
Hollins joined the Rays as a free agent on Dec. 14, 2004, and spent parts of two seasons with the Rays, including the 2006 season when he was one of five Rays players to remain active the entire season.
Hollins hit 15 home runs in 333 at-bats, but he saw his average drop from .249 to .228 in 2005. He did experience a career game July 29 at Yankee Stadium when he homered off Randy Johnson and posted five RBIs in a Rays' win over the Yankees.
Hollins did not play much after Young took over in right field the last month of the season, but he took the talented rookie's arrival in stride.
"I think it's always tough," said Hollins in September. "It's just one of those things you have to go with. Show up and still be ready in case anything happens. You still have to be ready.
"I totally understand the situation. Because of Delmon and my numbers. I mean, the way I'm hitting, that's not anybody's fault but mine. It's like, 'Hey, if we put you out there you've got to perform.' For me, overall, I've just had a lot of bad luck this season. I feel like I've been hitting the ball hard a lot this year. For some reason, they just haven't fallen in, but that's just baseball."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.