Rays may try to re-sign Dan Wheeler and Willy Aybar after declining options

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Tampa Bay declined 2011 options on Dan Wheeler at $4 million and Willy Aybar at $2.25 million, but Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that the Rays may try to re-sign both players to lesser salaries.

Aybar batted just .230/.309/.344 in 309 plate appearances while playing mostly designated hitter, so giving him a $275,000 buyout is a no-brainer given his weak performance and the abundance of veteran DH-types available this offseason. However, giving Wheeler a $1 million buyout instead of a $4 million option is somewhat surprising.

He had a 3.35 ERA and 46/16 K/BB ratio in 48 innings this season after posting a 3.28 ERA in 2009 and a 3.12 ERA in 2008. Tampa Bay’s bullpen was very deep this year, but the Rays may lose Rafael Soriano and Joaquin Benoit to free agency and whether you view Wheeler as a fallback plan or simply a viable setup man $4 million was a reasonable price.

The baseball world reacts to news of Kobe Bryant’s death

Kobe Bryant
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Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were two of nine people who died in a helicopter accident in Calabasas, California earlier today. Bryant’s death sent shockwaves throughout the basketball world, as well as the sports world at large. Here were a few reactions from the baseball world.

We certainly echo these sentiments, sending our condolences to the families and friends of those affected today. What a sad day.