Rays Face Decision On Blalock

WEDNESDAY, 10:49am: ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that other teams are beginning to weigh interest in Blalock, in case the Rays are willing to trade him.  Olney guesses his opt-out date is May 15th.  He adds that "once Blalock informs the Rays that he wants to opt out, they have 48 hours to deal him or put him on their roster."  Olney's sources presume the Mariners and White Sox would get in the mix if Blalock becomes a free agent.

TUESDAY, 10:54pm: Scott Boras indicated to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that Hank Blalock may exercise the out clause in his contract within a week if the Rays don't call him up.

"I would imagine that we'll probably know something about Hank in the next seven days," Boras said. "The time has come. The time has come. He's playing third base, obviously he's hitting well, he's a young guy."

Blalock, 29, has a .375/.435/.552 line and four homers in Triple A Durham (though that batting average has been inflated by a .421 batting average on balls in play). Meanwhile, Pat Burrell is hitting .221/.315/.364 with two homers in the majors. Willy Aybar has yet to start at DH for the Rays, but he has appeared in ten games as a backup DH, so the Rays could turn to him.

The Rays could cut their losses and release Burrell, who earns $9MM this year, to make room for Blalock. They could also attempt to trade Blalock, perhaps to the Mariners. But if Blalock hits free agency again, Boras says he is confident that there will be interest in his client.

"I think a lot of people understand Hank's a better choice for them, so we'll see," Boras said.

Under his current contract, Blalock is set to earn a base salary of $925K in the major leagues.



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