Rays sign Kotchman to Minor League deal

Rays sign Kotchman to Minor League deal

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays announced Friday that they have signed first baseman Casey Kotchman to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training and claimed right-hander Rob Delaney off waivers from the Twins.

Kotchman, 27, has played parts of seven seasons in the Major Leagues with the Angels (2004-08), Braves ('08-09), Red Sox ('09) and Mariners ('10). He was born and raised in St. Petersburg and resides in Seminole, Fla. He was selected by the Angels in the first round (13th overall) of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft out of Seminole High School. The left-handed-hitting Kotchman appeared in 125 games for the Mariners last season, batting .217 with nine home runs, 51 RBIs and 20 doubles. He has compiled a career .259 batting average, with 49 home runs, 284 RBIs, 121 doubles and a .326 on-base percentage.

Kotchman should give the Rays a boost in the field after losing Gold Glove first baseman Carlos Pena to free agency. Kotchman has led Major League first basemen in fielding percentage in each of the last three seasons. In 2010, he set a pair of Major League fielding records as a first baseman -- for consecutive errorless games (274) and total chances (2,379). Both streaks were snapped on Aug. 21 vs. the Yankees. With only nine errors in 4,875 total chances, Kotchman owns a career .998 fielding percentage at first base, the highest in Major League history among players with at least 500 games played.

Delaney, 26, made one appearance for Minnesota last year and spent the remainder of the season at Triple-A Rochester, where he went 7-9 with a 4.73 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 61 appearances. The St. John's University graduate was originally signed by the Twins as a non-drafted free agent in 2006. He has compiled a 22-19 record with a 2.96 ERA and 66 saves in five Minor League seasons.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.