Rays Sign Casey Kotchman, Claim Rob Delaney From Twins
Kotchman will make $750,000 plus the possibility of incentives if he's in the majors the entire season, according to SI.com. Though Kotchman has bounced around and seen his performance lag quite a bit the last couple of seasons, he should have a real chance to earn a job in Tampa Bay.
The Rays enter spring training with Dan Johnson atop their depth chart at first base after seeing Carlos Pena leave as a free agent and non-tendering Willy Aybar. Ben Zobrist can also play first, but he figures to see the bulk of his time at second base and in the outfield.
Kotchman, 27, spent all of last season with the Mariners after splitting time between the Red Sox and Braves in 2009. His best work came with the Angels in 2007, when he hit .296 with 37 doubles while posting a .372 on-base percentage. By last year, his OBP had plummeted to an unsightly .280.
But perhaps a return to familiar ground will help Kotchman. He was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Fla., and knows Rays manager Joe Maddon from their time together with the Angels. Plus, he is still considered one of the best defenders at his position, and having a good glove at first never hurts.
Delaney has far less experience than Kotchman but could figure into the picture in Tampa Bay. The 26-year-old has exactly one major league inning to his credit, that coming last Sept. 4 against the Rangers. But he has posted a 2.96 ERA in the minors over the last five seasons after signing with the Twins as an undrafted free agent and the Rays obviously saw something they like in him.
He and everyone else in the Rays' bullpen will get a long look this spring as the group will get a nearly complete makeover.