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Crawford's $10M club option exercised

Rays pick up Crawford's $10M option

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Predictably, the Rays exercised their $10 million option for the 2010 season on left fielder Carl Crawford on Monday.

The Rays declined the 2010 options on left-handed relief pitcher Brian Shouse and catcher Gregg Zaun, while claiming right-hander Ramon Ramirez off waivers from Cincinnati.

Crawford, 28, is the longest-tenured player in Rays history and the club's all-time leader in hits, at-bats, runs, stolen bases, triples, games played and RBIs. Last season he hit .305 -- his fourth season batting .300 or better -- with 15 home runs, 68 RBIs, 96 runs scored and a career-high and club-record 60 stolen bases.

An eight-year veteran, Crawford ranks fourth among active players with 362 career stolen bases and ranks third with 92 triples. Through his first 1,000 games he totaled 341 stolen bases and 87 triples -- numbers matched only by Hall of Famer Ty Cobb through 1,000 games.

If the Rays do not sign Crawford to a new deal either before the 2010 season or during it, he can become a free agent next fall.

"Carl's a big part of what we have accomplished and what we will accomplish in the future," said Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. "Obviously, the question everyone wants to know is what does the future mean? And I don't think anyone can answer that. I think both sides are very interested. Which is a great starting point.

"We won't be giving a blow-by-blow account. But I think it's safe to assume that at some point we will have conversations about possibly extending the contract even further. But for right now, this ensures he'll be with us in 2010 and whether it's something this offseason or next, we'll certainly do what we can to keep Carl in a Rays uniform as long as possible."

Had the Rays exercised the option on Shouse, he would have been paid $1.9 million in 2010. He will receive a buyout of $200,000. Zaun would have been paid $2 million and will receive a buyout of $500,000.

Ramirez, 27, posted a 3.65 ERA in 11 games out of the bullpen for Cincinnati in 2009 during two separate big league stints. At Triple-A Louisville, he was 6-7 with a 4.03 ERA in 20 starts and 11 relief outings. He also represented his native Venezuela in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

"Ramon's a guy in limited time in the Major Leagues has had a lot of success," Friedman said. "He's got an average fastball, a pretty good slider and an above-average changeup that we like against both right-handers and left-handers."

"For the most part, his experience is as a starting pitcher, but we envision him as a future bullpen arm. And our scouts have done a great job of identifying him as a guy whose stuff can play up coming out of the bullpen."

Ramirez also has a remaining option, which allows the Rays some roster flexibility.

Shouse, 41, appeared in 45 games for Tampa Bay in 2009, going 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA. He held left-handed hitters to a .224 batting average. The lefty specialist has been pitching professionally for 20 seasons, including parts of 10 seasons in the Major Leagues. He owns a career record of 13-10 with a 3.72 ERA.

Zaun, 38, was acquired in a trade with the Orioles on Aug. 7. In 30 games with the Rays he batted .287 with four home runs and 14 RBIs. Despite not exercising Zaun's option, Friedman made it sound like the club is leaving the door open for the veteran catcher to return to the team.

"Zauny did a great job for us in the two months he was with us," Friedman said. "By us declining his option right now is by no means indicative of our future plans. We're just not ready in the beginning of November to commit to what we're going to do.

"We've had great dialogue with his agent, Dan Evans, and have expressed our interest in him going forward. But it's pretty premature to do much more than that, because there are so many unanswered variables."

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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