Rays ink six to Minor League deals

Rays ink six to Minor League deals

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays announced Tuesday they have agreed to terms with six players, signing each to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.

Those players include: catcher Michel Hernandez, outfielder Jon Weber, left-hander Randy Choate, right-hander Julio DePaula, infielder Ray Olmedo and outfielder Ray Sadler.

Hernandez, 30, was a member of the Rays' postseason roster through all three rounds in 2008. The Rays acquired the 11-year Minor League veteran from the Pirates for cash considerations on Aug. 31, and he was assigned to Triple-A Durham's postseason roster; Hernandez hit .266 in 76 games with Triple-A Indianapolis in 2008. The Cuba native was called up to the Major Leagues on Sept. 9, when catcher Shawn Riggans underwent knee surgery. Hernandez played in five games for the Rays, his first big league action since 2003 with the Yankees.

Weber, who turns 31 this month, was invited to Major League camp by the Rays in 2008 and spent the entire season with Durham, where he hit .265 with 13 homers and 51 RBIs. Following the season, he played for Venados de Mazatlan of the Mexican Winter League. Weber has played 10 seasons professionally, including parts of four years in independent leagues.

Choate, 33, pitched for Triple-A Nashville in the Brewers' organization. Over the winter, he pitched for Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League. The southpaw has spent parts of eight seasons in the Major Leagues with the Yankees and Diamondbacks and pitched in two postseasons for the Yankees. Over 196 career Major League outings, he is 5-7 with a 4.64 ERA.

DePaula, 26, joins the Rays after nine years in the Twins' organization. He appeared in 51 games, including five starts for Triple-A Rochester in 2008. Following the season, he pitched for Gigantes del Cibao of the Dominican Winter League. DePaula reached the Major Leagues in 2007 and made 16 appearances over two stints in the Twins' bullpen. In the Minor Leagues, he owns a 48-35 career record with a 3.16 ERA.

Hot Stove
Olmedo, 27, has played parts of five years in the Major Leagues with the Reds and Blue Jays. In 2008, he was the starting shortstop for Triple-A Columbus, then a Nationals affiliate, and hit .252 with four homers and 10 stolen bases. The Aragua, Venezuela, native has played for Bravos de Margarita of the Venezuelan Winter League in each of the past two offseasons.

Sadler, 28, split the 2008 campaign between Triple-A Round Rock and Double-A Corpus Christi in the Astros' system. He combined to bat .272 with 25 homers and 78 RBIs. Following the season, he played for Caribes de Anzoategui of the Venezuelan Winter League. Sadler played three games with the Pirates in 2005, his only action in the Major Leagues. Over nine Minor League seasons, he has tallied 131 homers and 128 steals.

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