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Reliever Phil Maton officially joins Rays, is excited to be here

PORT CHARLOTTE — Phil Maton had heard plenty of great things over his seven years in the majors about the Rays’ work with pitchers.

Given the chance to join them, in what turned out to be a very quiet free-agent market, he happily made that move. He signed a one-year, $6.25 million deal, with a $7.75 million option (or a $750,000 buyout) that became official Wednesday.

“I’ve played with some guys that have come through here,” said Maton, 30, before Wednesday’s initial workout of camp. “You hear nothing but great things. In baseball, whenever you hear good things about organizations, it really spreads. It was a no-brainer once things started connecting here with the Rays that this was going to be a good place to go.”

Manager Kevin Cash said the Rays were glad to have someone with Maton’s experience, which includes stints with San Diego, Cleveland and Houston.

“Veteran guy, he’s been there, done that,” Cash said. “He’s had a pretty healthy workload over the last three years. He’s pitched for a very good team, very good organization, and I think he’s going to slide into what we consider a pretty strong bullpen.

“I don’t think there’s necessarily a sixth-, seventh-, eighth-inning role. But he’s pretty neutral-split (in facing left- and right-handers). He can really pitch. The cutter plays up really, really well.”

Maton will wear No. 88, as he has since being a non-roster invite to Padres major-league camp early in his career. Coming off back to back strong years with the Astros, he is eager to keep getting better.

“I‘ll be 31 this year and ideally coming out of this contract as a 33-year-old, and I’d like to continue to improve as a pitcher,” Maton said. “In my mind, this was going to be the place where I was going to be able to do that.”

Maton’s younger brother, Nick, is an infielder in camp with the Orioles, having played previously in the majors with the Phillies and Tigers.

To make room for Maton on the 40-man roster, the Rays shifted starter Shane McClanahan, who is rehabbing from his second Tommy John surgery, to the 60-day injured list. Cash reiterated Wednesday that McClanahan will miss the entire 2024 season.

Adam has no hard feelings on arbitration loss

After beating the Rays last year, reliever Jason Adam came out on the other side of his Monday arbitration hearing.

Adam joked that the $550,000 difference between the $3.25 million salary he sought and the $2.7 million salary he’ll get made for “my biggest gambling loss of my life,” but said the experience wasn’t that bad.

“I think I walked out of the hearing, and I felt like they put on a good case, so I knew there was a good chance that they were going to win,” he said. “And they did. So that’s just kind of the nature of it. It’s a gamble. ...

“They did a great job. You hear horror stories of teams treating players pretty badly (in how they present their case), the Rays aren’t that way; they treated me well through the whole process. It was just a disagreement within the system, not a disagreement personally.”

DH Harold Ramirez has his hearing later this week.

Miscellany

After all the winter conversations, Cash said it was good to see pitchers, catchers and early reporting position players on the field doing baseball things. He specifically noted three veteran pitchers brought into the organization: Tyler Alexander, Naoyuki Uwasawa and Jacob Waguespack. “Productive day,” Cash said. ... Baseball operations president Erik Neander and Cash will be in Tampa on Thursday with representatives of the other 14 Florida-based teams for the MLB spring media day, which is followed by the Governor’s Baseball Dinner at Steinbrenner Field. ... The Rays are planning to stretch out Alexander and fellow reliever Chris Devenski to three-inning outings by mid-March, then decide what role they will be used in. ... Alexander, claimed off waivers from Detroit, said he has fully recovered from the lat strain that cut short his 2023 season, was “excited” to work with pitching coach Kyle Snyder and was open to however the Rays want to use him.

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