Earlier in the week we heard speculation that the Rays could decline Akinori Iwamura's $4.25MM option for 2010. The Rays need the money and, because of Jason Bartlett, Reid Brignac and Ben Zobrist, they don't need the middle infield depth. But, according to Mark Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, Iwamura wants to return.
"I love this team," he said through his interpreter, "and I love the Tampa area."
The 30-year-old second baseman has a .294/.356/.388 line this year, right in line with his career averages. Iwamura, who says his knee is at full strength, has been a league-average fielder in the majors, according to UZR/150. Iwamura's numbers don't stand out from this year's free agent second basemen, but he may find himself competing for jobs with them in spite of his love for Tampa.