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Jennings among Rays' arb-eligible players

Outfielder was sidelined most of 2015 season, but he produces when healthy

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays appear headed for smooth sailing as the non-tender deadline approaches.

Arbitration-eligible players must be tendered a contract prior to Wednesday's 11:59 p.m. ET deadline. Any player not tendered a contract becomes a free agent, which would open the door for them to sign with any team.

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Tampa Bay has nine arbitration-eligible players. The list includes the following and what they made in 2015:

Alex Cobb ($4 million), Logan Forsythe ($1.1 million), Brandon Guyer ($515,000), Desmond Jennings ($3.1 million), Jake McGee ($3.55 million), Logan Morrison ($2.725 million), Erasmo Ramirez ($522,800), Rene Rivera ($1.2 million) and Drew Smyly ($2.65 million).

While the argument could be made that the Rays should not tender contracts to Jennings or Rivera based on their performances in 2015, that is unlikely to occur.

Jennings was limited to just 28 games in 2015 due to two left knee injuries that required two trips to the disabled list. His season ended after he underwent dental surgery in September. However, when Jennings was healthy, he brought a lot to Tampa Bay's offense. Jennings showed what he is capable of doing when he hit .353 with a double, a triple and a home run over 10 games after his activation from the DL in August.

The Rays believe a healthy Jennings in 2016 can help give the offense a jolt.

Rivera's lack of offense in 2015 was a disappointment, but Tampa Bay has clearly decided that he is the best defensive catcher on the squad, which is why the club left J.P. Arencibia off the 40-man roster.

Even if Rivera does not bounce back offensively, the Rays would have a quality defensive catcher in Rivera and an offensive catcher in Curt Casali.

Most players counter what they are initially offered by their club, then they negotiate to try and reach an agreement. If they are unable to reach a deal, the club and the player would head to an arbitration hearing, where an arbitrator would decide if the player gets the salary he's asking for or the one the team is offering.

Tendering a player a contract does not prevent the team from trading said player.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
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