Veteran Floyd offers Rays balance
Free-agent gets one-year deal with team option for 2009
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays landed the left-handed bat they were looking for Monday, when they signed veteran slugger Cliff Floyd to a one-year Major League contract with a club option for 2009.
Floyd will make $2.75 million in 2008, with a chance to make up to $2 million in bonuses based on plate appearances. The deal includes a team option for the 2009 season at the base compensation he establishes in 2008 (which ranges from $2.75 million to $4.75 million depending on where he falls in regard to his bonus), with the chance to earn an additional $2 million and a $250,000 buyout.
The trade that sent right fielder Delmon Young and infielder Brendan Harris to the Twins for right-hander Matt Garza and shortstop Jason Bartlett left the right field and designated hitter duties to Rocco Baldelli and Jonny Gomes, who are both right-handed hitters. Floyd's acquisition will allow the Rays to use a rotation of the three players to fill the two positions.
"We're excited to add someone of Cliff's ability to the organization," said Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. "We were looking for a left-handed bat to compliment our existing players, and we're comfortable that Cliff will fit in very nicely to the DH/right field rotation."
Floyd, 35, hit .284 with nine home runs and 45 RBIs for the Cubs in 2007, including a .373 on-base percentage in 108 games. He is a career .279 hitter with 222 home runs, 826 RBIs, 327 doubles and 147 stolen bases in 15 Major League seasons with the Expos (1993-96, 2002), Marlins (1997-2002), Red Sox (2002), Mets (2003-06) and Cubs (2007).
Floyd is familiar with the Rays' roster -- thanks largely to his being able to watch night games since the Cubs play many of their games during the day -- and he is impressed.
"This is a team to reckon with," Floyd said, "because these guys are getting better and better each year. That's all you can ask. They've gotten better, they're in a position where they're tired of what's going on, and I believe with the way things have changed and what I've seen, to me they're ready to win now."
A veteran of three postseasons, Floyd was a member of the Marlins' 1997 World Series championship club, and reached the playoffs with the '06 Mets and '07 Cubs. He was named a National League All-Star in 2001 when he hit .319 with 31 homers, 103 RBIs, 44 doubles, 18 steals and 123 runs scored for the Marlins. He was selected by Montreal in the first round (14th overall) of the 1991 June First-Year Player Draft, made his Major League debut in 1993 at age 20, and was part of the winningest team in Expos history during his rookie campaign in 1994. He slugged a career-high 34 home runs for the Mets in 2005, and on two occasions, he has reached 20 home runs and 20 steals in the same season (1998 and 2000).
Friedman said Floyd's veteran presence "certainly added to the appeal of Cliff," but Friedman added that the decision to try and sign Floyd was driven primarily by what he could do on the field. Floyd echoed that sentiment when asked about what he would bring to the Rays.
"I'm not a talker, I'm not going to talk up a storm," Floyd said. "I want [the players] to appreciate the game and know that I'm coming in to win games. I'm not coming in to teach and play the big veteran guy. I'm coming in to win games. Do use the knowledge from what I've been through and from some of the teams I've been on to help these guys. I'm not closing the door to any opportunity. But I want them to know I'm here to win and help them win."
In joining the Rays, Floyd begins his second stint in the American League. He hit .316 for the Red Sox in 2003 in 47 games after being acquired at the July non-waiver trade deadline. He owns a career batting average of .382 at Tropicana Field, tied for the second-best average all-time (minimum 75 at-bats).
Floyd, who has struggled with leg injuries throughout his career, only had 282 at-bats with the Cubs in 2007. He now feels his limited playing time last season will help him this season since he's been afforded an opportunity to heal.
"It definitely helped me out to get myself feeling good," Floyd said. "[I] got my feet healed up, everything healed up to feeling good. It put me in a position to give the Rays everything I have. ... I feel real good. Everything I'm doing this offseason I couldn't do a couple of years ago. I couldn't run as much as I'm running right now. I couldn't get to the gym as much as I have because things just weren't feeling good."
Floyd also likes the flexibility of being able to be the designated hitter.
"Nothing hurts me, and plus, you add on the DH position," Floyd said. "I think I put myself in a great position. ... If you want to give me the day off, you can give me the day off and still give me four at-bats [at DH]."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.