Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and catcher Mike Zunino are finalizing a new one-year, $4.5 million contract for the 2020 season. The deal includes an option for the 2021 season worth between $4.5-5.5 million. [Update: The Rays have announced the deal.]
Zunino, 28, was eligible for arbitration in his fourth and final year. He’s coming off of a disappointing 2019 season in which he hit .165/.232/.312 with nine home runs and 32 RBI across 289 plate appearances. He eventually split playing time behind the plate with Travis d'Arnaud, who the Rays were hoping to keep. He signed with the Braves yesterday.
Zunino’s best year came in 2017 when he posted an .840 OPS with 25 homers while playing above-average defense behind the plate for the Mariners. The Rays are hoping he can recapture some of that magic this coming season.