AL East Links: Rays, Bautista, Yankees

The latest from Florida, where pitchers and catchers are reporting to AL East Spring Training camps…

  • Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told Erik Hahmann of DRaysBay that "starting pitching, position players who can help you on both sides of the ball, and impact talent up the middle" are difficult or impossible for the Rays to obtain on the open market. That's why the Rays expect the upcoming draft to be some of "the most important days in the history of [the Tampa Bay] franchise." Friedman admits that the Rays face different challenges than, say, the Yankees or Red Sox, but expects his club to compete in 2011.
  • Jose Bautista, who set a deadline for extension talks with the Blue Jays, told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that he is "still very hopeful” about signing long-term with the Jays. Bautista's arbitration hearing is scheduled for today, so we'll know by tomorrow whether he's going to sign an extension or make $10.5MM or $7.6MM this year.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post points out that some aging players are crucial to the Yankees' success in 2011.

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