Longtime doormat Tampa Bay entered the free-agent wars today, signing Type A FA's Cristobal Marquez (RF) and Karim Wallace (RP). Marquez is a career .259 hitter with 166 HR's over 6 seasons for the Giants. He's one of this year's youngest free agents at 28, having opted out after 3 arbitration years with the Giants. Wallace has seen both closer and setup duty over 8 seasons with the Red Sox, Angels and Cubs, compiling a 3.91 ERA. The Rays are getting 2 quality players...just not cheaply. Grade(s): B
The signings fueled speculation among Ray-watchers that the club would mount an all-out effort to contend this season, promoting prospects wholesale and signing more free agents. GM blanch13 quieted the buzz at least momentarily by ruling out more free agent signings: "We expended our FA budget on Marquez and Wallace, and we're very happy with those signings. We bid early on (former MIN C Jolbert) Saenz, but the bidding quickly got into the 'this is the one guy that puts us over' range, and that's not our situation. We need help in lots of places."