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Rays sign Pat Burrell

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Free agent Pat Burrell signs with MLB's Tampa Bay Rays

By JIM SEIMAS - Sentinel staff writer

Posted: 01/06/2009 02:39:26 AM PST

Outfielder Pat Burrell is off the free-agent market. The Boulder Creek native signed a two-year, $16-million deal with the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday afternoon. With the move, he goes from the World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies to the runner-up.

"First of all, at the end of last year, obviously, I got to know the [Rays] pretty well," Burrell told mlb.com. "And coming into free agency, the thing that was most important to me was to go somewhere where I thought I had as good a chance or better to repeat and go back to the World Series."

Burrell, 32, will likely be the team's full-time designated hitter. The right-handed hitter gives the Rays a much-needed boost in power from the right side of the plate.

Burrell, a former No. 1 draft pick who has spent all nine of his MLB seasons with the Phillies, has a .257 lifetime average with 251 home runs and 827 RBIs. He hit .250 with 33 home runs and 86 RBIs last season.

Burrell, who prepped at San Lorenzo Valley High and Bellarmine College Prep, has a home in Clearwater, Fla.

Andrew Friedman, the Rays' executive vice president of baseball operations, told mlb.com that Burrell brings a ton of qualities other than just his power. And he was obtained for a cheap price tag, relatively speaking.

"The way he grinds at-bats, it fits in very well with what we look for," Friedman said. "As far as a hitter, very good plate discipline and power combo. We feel like he fits in very well with our existing

personnel and will make our lineup even stronger."

ESPN analysts believe the signing of Burrell and the addition of outfielder Matt Joyce, traded from Detroit, give the Rays the top offense in the American League East Division. The Rays' lineup includes standouts B.J. Upton, Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford.

Burrell will make less than the $14 million he garnered last season and reinforced analysts' beliefs that free-agent contracts would take a hit this offseason with the nation's struggling economy.

While Burrell drew more than 100 walks for the fourth straight year in 2008, he struggled in postseason play, hitting just .227, including a 1-for-14 showing in the World Series.

Philadelphia elected to not offer Burrell arbitration. Instead, the Phillies signed Seattle's Raul Ibanez to a three-year deal worth $31.5 million.

Nice under the radar signing

Might give tem the best lineup in the AL East

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