The Rays signed Jose Julio Ruiz to a minor league deal, according to Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald. Ruiz will make $20K per month and the Rays will have the option to sign the Cuban first baseman to a four-year $4MM major league deal on November 15th (all Twitter links). The minor league deal guarantees Ruiz much less than he was seeking last offseason.
Ruiz became a free agent in the fall and immediately attracted interest from multiple teams. In February, his trainer claimed to have received "concrete proposals" worth more than $1MM from three major league clubs. The Blue Jays and Red Sox appeared interested, but reports of disastrous tryouts emerged, teams started backing off and Ruiz changed agents.
The Rays may have found themselves a bargain and Jorge Arangure Jr. of ESPN.com suggests (via Twitter) that Ruiz could become a candidate to replace Carlos Pena. The Rays signed another Cuban first baseman – Leslie Anderson – in March. Anderson, 28, is hitting .266/.310/.418 in high A ball, so he doesn't appear ready to play in the majors.