November 25, 2019 / 11:11 PM / 13 days ago

Rays bring back C Zunino on $4.5 million deal

FILE PHOTO: Sep 29, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Tampa Bay Rays catcher Mike Zunino (10) talks to teammate starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) during the third inning at an MLB game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Rays and catcher Mike Zunino agreed to a $4.5 million contract for the 2020 season on Monday, avoiding arbitration.

The team has a 2021 option, also for $4.5 million, with compensation potentially growing to $5.25 million with incentives.

Zunino, 28, hit .165 with nine home runs and 32 RBIs in 90 games last season. While he’ll be looking for a bounce-back season at the plate, his defense remains his calling card, as he threw out 38.6 percent of attempted base stealers (17 of 44) last season, the third-best mark in the majors.

Zunino spent the first six seasons of his major league career with the Seattle Mariners before being sent to the Rays last November in a five-player trade. He has a career batting average of .202 with 104 home runs and 273 RBIs in 677 games.

He was the third overall pick in the 2012 draft, making his major league debut about a year later.

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