After early reports surfaced across the Internet late last week, the news was inevitable, certainly not a secret. With the Rays denying the rumors, though, perhaps it took longer than expected. But, on Monday morning, the anticipated signing of outfielder Cliff Floyd finally occured, officially.
The Rays confirmed this morning, Floyd, a 35-year-old resident of Plantation, FL, inked a one-year deal with a club option for 2009, estimated to be worth, in total, $6 million, plus incentives. He is expected to share time in a three-way platoon between right field and designated hitter, along with Jonny Gomes and, if healthy, oft-injured Rocco Baldelli. If needed, he can also spell 2007 Rays’ Team MVP Carlos Pena at first base.
A lifetime .279 hitter with 222 career home runs and 826 RBIs, Floyd, who fills the Rays’ desperate need for a left-handed bat, will be counted on to provide offensive punch to a lineup that will be missing Delmon Young, who was recently traded to the Minnesota Twins.
A Chicago native, Floyd hit .284 for his hometown Cubs last season, chipping in nine homers, 45 RBIs in an injury-plagued campaign. After the team failed to pick up his option for the 2008 season, Floyd gained Free Agent status in November, turning up on the Rays’ baseball operations department radar shortly there after.
The 15-year veteran, who broke into the majors with the Expos in 1993, becomes one of the only players on the Rays' roster with playoff experience. He played a pivotal role in the Florida Marlins’ 1997 World Series Championship and has made two other postseason appearances, in 2006 with the New York Mets and this past season with Chicago.
Selected by Montreal Expos in the first round (14th overall) of the 1991 June Draft, he made his major league debut at the tender age of 20. As a rookie, he was a key contributor on one of the most successful teams in Montreal history, helping guide the Expos to a first-place finish during the strike-shortened 1994 season.
Floyd has achieved success in his brief time at Tropicana Field, owning the second-best all-time batting average of any visiting player (.382, 29-for-78) at the stadium with a minimum of 75 at-bats. In addition to his past successes while playing in the friendly confines of the Trop, he provides the Rays with a strong veteran presence in a clubhouse filled with talented, young players.
Ted Fleming, the manager of TBSN Radio 510, has been covering the sports scene in the Tampa Bay area for the last decade via radio and print. His radio show is syndicated by the Black Athletes Sports Network live daily for two hours, starting at 11:00 A.M. Additionally, he is a stringer for the PA SportsTicker and has previously worked for WEEI in Boston, ESPN 1050 in New York and Metro Sports. You can reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To voice your opinion on his radio show, call (888) TBSN-510.
Tyler Hissey contributed to this report.