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Johnny Damon and B.J. Upton want to stay with Rays in 2012

Oct 5, 2011, 12:48 PM EDT

B.J. Upton, Evan Longoria, Johnny Damon AP

Matthew Pouliot wrote yesterday about how the Rays are in position to potentially bring back nearly their entire roster next season, with the notable exception of Johnny Damon being one of their few free agents and B.J. Upton possibly being on the trading block.

Following yesterday’s season-ending loss Damon and Upton both expressed a desire to remain with the Rays in 2012. Damon called Tampa Bay “the perfect fit” and told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that he “would love to come back.”

Upton was slightly less optimistic with one season remaining until he’s eligible for free agency, saying:

I’m hoping I’m back. That’s out of my hands, I’ve got nothing to do with that. But I’ve grown up with a lot of these guys, and the guys we’ve acquired, I enjoy being around them. So hopefully next February I’m still in a Rays uniform.

There were plenty of rumors swirling around Upton in July, so he figures to be linked to numerous teams this offseason. He’s in line for about $7 million via the arbitration process and the Rays have Desmond Jennings ready as a center field replacement. If the Rays liked having Damon around and he’s willing to take another moderately priced one-year contract he could fit into their 2012 plans, but the Upton situation is more complicated.

  1. dailyrev - Oct 5, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    Upton had been quoted as being relieved after the deadline passed. And this is no surprise when you think about it: surveys of workers at large reveal that salary rates about 3rd or 4th among personal/professional priorities. I know I’ve taken less $$$ in the past to work for a great boss (and there’s probably none better for a baseball player than Maddon) or to work with colleagues I’m comfortable with (and the Rays seem like a close-knit group). So even for multi-millionaires this principle would seem to apply (Cliff Lee).

  2. natstowngreg - Oct 5, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    No doubt, the Nats will be in the Upton speculation, as they were in July. He would provide the defense the team needs in CF, and would add speed and power. Rizzo has some young talent to throw at the Rays to get Upton.

    Problem is, it would add another low-average, high-strikeout hitter to a lineup with too many low-average,high-strikeout hitters.

  3. Joe - Oct 5, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    Damon seems like a pretty amiable guy. It seems everywhere he goes, he says he wants to stay. I kind of like that about him.

  4. seanmk - Oct 5, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    teams that could use a CF or don’t have an answer there/coming: nationals, marlins, giants(unless you think gary brown is coming soon), A’s maybe, white sox maybe

    • hittfamily - Oct 5, 2011 at 4:01 PM

      Any chance the Giants would do Belt for Upton? Other than that, the Giants don’t make much sense. The Rays would be looking for young Major league talent. They have a ton of guys a few years away, but very few bats ready for next year, and no difference makers. Guyer could fill the LF spot, but I really like Upton’s performance this year. He is a great CF and has 30 40 written all over him. Anything less than a premium major league bat would be a major undersell by an offensively desperate team.

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