ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay did not tender a contract to Ben Francisco before Friday night's deadline, making the outfielder the lone arbitration-eligible Rays player not to be tendered, which makes him a free agent going forward.
Tampa Bay's arbitration-eligible players tendered contracts include: David Price ($4.35 million in 2012), Jeff Niemann ($2.5 million), Burke Badenhop ($1.075), Matt Joyce ($499,500), Sean Rodriguez ($492,800), Reid Brignac ($490,600), Sam Fuld ($489,400) and Ryan Roberts ($2,012,500).
Tampa Bay acquired Francisco from the Astros on Aug. 31 for a player to be named. He hit .228 with two home runs and eight RBIs for the Rays.
According to the Major League Baseball Players Association, the following players are eligible for arbitration:
A player with three or more years of service, but less than six years, may file for salary arbitration. In addition, a player can be classified as a Super Two and be eligible for arbitration with less than three years of service. A player with at least two, but less than three years of Major League service shall be eligible for salary arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and he ranks in the top 22 percent (increased from 17 percent in previous agreements) in total service in the class of players who have at least two, but less than three years of Major League service, however accumulated, but with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season.
Once contracts are tendered, clubs can negotiate with the player right up until their arbitration hearings. However, the Rays' self-imposed policy is to conclude their negotiating by the numbers filing deadline, which is Jan. 18, 2013. The club's exception to this deadline is to negotiate a multi-year deal with the player.
Niemann was the lone Rays player that went to arbitration in 2012 after the team came to terms with pitchers Price and Badenhop and center fielder B.J. Upton just prior to the deadline to exchange figures.
Niemann lost in arbitration and played the 2012 season for the $2.75 million offered by the club rather than the $3.2 million he sought.
Tampa Bay remains unbeaten in six salary arbitration cases, and under the current Rays regime, the team is unbeaten in five cases. In addition to Niemann, the club won twice against former catcher Josh Paul and they won against former catcher Dioner Navarro and Upton.