“We had some accelerated conversations with Baltimore,” Tampa Bay Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman said via a conference call Friday afternoon from Seattle. “Anyway we can upgrade the club, we feel like it’s our responsibility.
“We’re excited to add Gregg. He’s got a lot of experience playing in the American League East. He’s been a Ray killer the last couple of years. It will be good getting him on our side.”
Tampa Bay and Baltimore, in last place in the AL East, reportedly agreed on the deal after the Rays picked him off the Orioles’ waiver list.
The switch-hitting catcher will be expected to provide depth and added experience for the Rays, who also have former All-Star Dioner Navarro and Michel Hernandez behind the plate.
Zaun, 38, played 56 games for the Orioles, who had inked him to a free-agent contract with an option for 2010. He batted .244 with four home runs and 13 runs batted in.
“It’s a mutual option once he’s traded,” Friedman said. “Our focus is on 2009, not 2010.
“He’s got a lot of experience behind the plate, and he’s good handling a staff. There’s a lot of value keeping catchers fresh [because] it’s a long season. I think he’ll play a fair amount.”
Zaun is certainly no stranger to the AL East. He spent the previous five seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays. He’s also had stints with the Florida Marlins, Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies. Zaun, who helped Florida capture the World Series in 1997, was drafted by Baltimore in 1989.
In 1,170 games played in his career, Zaun is batting .250 (824 for 3,293) with 82 home runs and 418 runs batted in. Zaun enjoyed a spectacular career at St. Francis. He was tabbed the Del Rey League’s Most Valuable Player in 1989 after being named to the league’s first team in 1988.
Zaun became the third area player to be dealt since July 29. The Colorado Rockies dealt St. Francis graduate Jason Hirsh to the New York Yankees and the Pittsburgh Pirates traded three-time All-Star Freddy Sanchez, a former Glendale Community College standout, to the San Francisco Giants on July 29.