Abreu's representatives meet with Rays
Club continues to pursue sluggers at annual Winter Meetings
LAS VEGAS -- Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman confirmed meeting with free-agent outfielder Bobby Abreu's representatives on Wednesday, in addition to a host of other agents representing free agents the club is interested in pursuing.
"We have basically talked to all the agents of players we have interest in," said Friedman, choosing not to share the names of those players.
The Rays have confirmed meeting with Milton Bradley and Jason Giambi during these Winter Meetings, but Friedman said the Rays were "still in that mode where we're still collecting information."
"I think the agents are doing the same thing, trying to get a sense of which opportunities are real and which ones aren't," Friedman said. "And it will, obviously, play out over time. Whether it's the next week or next month, I'm not sure. But we'll continue to monitor it. And we feel like we're in position to get someone we like."
Speculation on other players of interest includes Jeremy Hermida, Rick Ankiel, Nelson Cruz and Ken Griffey Jr.
Most of the Rays' focus in Las Vegas has been on improving the offense and not so much on the bullpen, the team's other area of greatest need.
"We've talked to a couple of [bullpen] guys, but for us, ideally, we'd acquire a guy or two that we like who may have some options or roster flexibility," Friedman said. "Because I'm not sure yet what our situation is going to be."
Friedman said he expects last year's closer, Troy Percival, to be ready for the start of the season, but the Rays can't be positive, because he will be returning from back surgery. If Percival is ready, Friedman said "we'd like to have a guy we like that we can option."
"So that's ideal, but we're also talking to some free-agent relievers," Friedman said. "But that, for us, isn't as pressing [as addressing the offense at this point]."
The Winter Meetings will conclude Thursday, with the annual Rule 5 Draft being the focal point of the final day.
Eligible players to be selected in the Draft are those players not on a team's Major League 40-man roster who were 18 or younger when they first signed a pro contract and this is the fourth Rule 5 Draft since they signed. Also eligible are those players not on the 40-man who were 19 or older when they first signed a pro contract and this is the third Rule 5 Draft since they signed.
Clubs pay $50,000 for the player drafted in the Major League phase, and if the player does not remain on the Major League 25-man active roster for all of the next season, the drafting club must attempt to return him to his original club for a price of $25,000.
"We have a number of guys who have a chance to get taken," Friedman said. "Obviously, we've picked through it in great detail beforehand and we'll see what happens. ... I would not be surprised if we had anywhere from one to three guys taken."
The Rays find themselves picking 28th in the Draft, and Friedman said they have a couple of guys "we're interested in."
"We think that there's a decent scenario that one of the guys we're interested in gets to us," Friedman said. "And if so, we'll be aggressive in selecting him, and if not, it wouldn't be a big issue for us."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.