ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays came to terms with Jason Bartlett on Tuesday, avoiding arbitration by signing the shortstop to a one-year contract worth $1,981,250.
Clubs must submit arbitration figures by Tuesday unless they come to terms with their arbitration-eligible players. The Rays' remaining arbitration-eligible players yet to sign are Willy Aybar and Dioner Navarro.
Bartlett, 28, was acquired by the Rays in an offseason trade with the Twins prior to the 2008 season. His presence solidified Tampa Bay's infield, which resulted in his being voted the Rays' team MVP by the local Baseball Writers' Association of America chapter. He also received a fifth-place vote for the American League Most Valuable Player Award.
Bartlett gave the Rays a quality glove at shortstop, considerably improving the team's overall defense. But he was not just a glove man. He led all AL shortstops in stolen bases with 20 and ranked fourth among them in batting with a .286 average. From Aug. 2 through the season's end, Bartlett hit .353 in 35 games to raise his average by 34 points.
Bartlett's value could best be seen when he wasn't in the lineup. The Rays went 7-9 when he was on the DL and 19-18 when he did not start.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.