Skip to content

Bargain-hunting Rays still have some holes

Jan 18, 2013, 7:53 PM EDT

Joe Maddon, Andrew Friedman

The Rays have spent some money this winter, adding Yunel Escobar for shortstop, James Loney for first base and Roberto Hernandez to the pitching staff. Their rotation is fine even with James Shields gone and the infield might be set, if Ben Zobrist plays second base, but the team still has some needs as is.

Outfield: Desmond Jennings is the only sure starter in the Tampa Bay outfield, and it’s still unclear if he’ll be playing left or center. Matt Joyce will start somewhere against righties, probably in right field but perhaps at designated hitter. A career .201/.288/.325 hitter in 234 at-bats against lefties,  he’s more useful being platooned.

Beyond those two, the Rays have the option of playing Zobrist in right, but they seem more likely to use him at second initially. Brandon Guyer was looking like a nice sleeper entering last season, but he opened up in Triple-A and then suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in May. Sam Fuld is also back healthy after missing much of the season, but he should be viewed as a reserve. Top prospect Wil Myers will almost certainly spend the first month in Triple-A to push back his free agency clock, and he might be held back until mid-June, depending on how he’s performing and the Rays’ needs in right field.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark today mentioned Michael Bourn as a possibility for the Rays, as unlikely as that would seem to be. Not only would he blow up their budget, but he’d also cost them their first-round pick. Scott Hairston would seem to be a nice fit as a starter early who can be eased into a reserve role when Myers comes up, but the Rays haven’t been mentioned in connection with him. Perhaps they think Guyer is his equal. Still, even if the the Rays do opt to go with a Guyer-Jennings-Joyce outfield, they’re going to need a…

Designated hitter: In recently posting a Rays depth chart, I put Ryan Roberts at DH for lack of any better alternatives. It shouldn’t be difficult to do better there, though. Tampa Bay could re-sign Luke Scott to DH against right-handers after he hit .229/.285/.439 for them last season. Travis Hafner and Jim Thome are alternatives there, but they’re pure DHs incapable of playing elsewhere. Scott can at least play a passable first base and perhaps still left field when healthy.

One alternative here would be to sign Kelly Johnson, put Zobrist in right field and use Joyce primarily at DH.

Bullpen: The Rays have only three sure things for the pen right now: Fernando Rodney, Jake McGee and Joel Peralta. They’ll probably stick Hernandez there initially, and they do have some adequate holdovers in Cesar Ramos and Brandon Gomes, plus guys with upside like Josh Lueke, Dane De La Rosa and Frank De Los Santos. Still, one imagines they have their eyes on a couple of cheap veterans who might be candidates for turnarounds. No teams are beating down the doors of Francisco Rodriguez,  Matt Capps and Ramon Ramirez at the moment. And then there’s Hideki Okajima, who wants to return to the U.S. after a terrific season in Japan. The Rays could also consider trading Jeff Niemann for bullpen help.

Latest Posts
  1. The Indians owner is trying to sell minority stakes in the team to raise cash

    Aug 31, 2015, 8:55 AM EDT

    Progressive Field

    It’s no surprise that Mark Shapiro felt that bolting to Toronto was a good idea

  2. And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

    Aug 31, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Jake Arrieta Getty Images

    Jake Arrieta looked great last night. At least during his no-hitter. Afterward? Well, at least he looked comfortable.

  3. Giancarlo Stanton could return to the Marlins on Friday

    Aug 30, 2015, 11:55 PM EDT

    Giancarlo Stanton Giancarlo Stanton

    Giancarlo Stanton is getting close to returning to the Marlins. He’s slated to begin a rehab stint on Tuesday.

  4. Video: Jake Arrieta strikes out Chase Utley to complete his no-hitter

    Aug 30, 2015, 11:31 PM EDT

    Jake Arrieta Jake Arrieta

    Jake Arrieta struck out Chase Utley to complete his first career no-hitter.

  5. Jake Arrieta no-hits the Dodgers with 12 strikeouts

    Aug 30, 2015, 11:14 PM EDT

    Jake Arrieta Jake Arrieta

    Jake Arrieta made history on Sunday night, tossing a no-hitter against the Dodgers.

  6. Aaron Harang passed through waivers

    Aug 30, 2015, 11:05 PM EDT

    Aaron Harang Aaron Harang

    Aaron Harang wasn’t claimed when the Phillies put him on waivers, so any team can try and negotiate a trade if they’re desperate for rotation help.

  7. Padres claim Chris Rearick off waivers from the Rangers

    Aug 30, 2015, 10:15 PM EDT

    Chris Rearick Chris Rearick

    The Padres got Chris Rearick back, claiming him off waivers from the Rangers on Sunday.

  8. Blue Jays will name Mark Shapiro as the new team president

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:51 PM EDT

    Mark Shapiro Getty Images

    The Blue Jays are expected to name Mark Shapiro as the new team president.

  9. Yankees hang 20 runs on the Braves to complete a sweep in Atlanta

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:25 PM EDT

    Jacoby Ellsbury Jacoby Ellsbury

    The Braves were demolished by the Yankees on Sunday.

  10. Tim Lincecum suffers a setback in his injury rehab

    Aug 30, 2015, 8:35 PM EDT

    Tim Lincecum Tim Lincecum

    Tim Lincecum may have thrown his last pitch as a member of the Giants after suffering another setback in his recovery from hip and back injuries.

  11. Video: David Ortiz hits 494th career homer, passing Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff

    Aug 30, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    David Ortiz Getty Images

    David Ortiz has sole possession of 27th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard.

  12. Phillies claim Ken Roberts off waivers from the Rockies

    Aug 30, 2015, 6:55 PM EDT

    Ken Roberts Getty Images

    The Phillies added bullpen depth on Sunday, claiming Ken Roberts off waivers from the Rockies.

  13. Curtis Granderson thinks the moon landing was faked

    Aug 30, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT

    Curtis Granderson Curtis Granderson

    Curtis Granderson was prompted to say something controversial, so he did.

  14. Stephen Strasburg pulled after four rough innings on Sunday with discomfort in upper back

    Aug 30, 2015, 5:22 PM EDT

    Stephen Strasburg AP

    The 27-year-old missed most of July with an oblique strain and most of June with a trapezius strain.

  15. Video: Jeremy Guthrie robs Rays ballboy at The Trop

    Aug 30, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    guthrie mlb.tv

    Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie is doing some fine side work in his new long relief role …

  16. Josh Hamilton still unable to run due to sore left knee

    Aug 30, 2015, 3:28 PM EDT

    Josh Hamilton AP

    Josh Hamilton is likely to be activated off the disabled list Tuesday, September 1 when major league rosters expand, but it sounds like he’s going to be limited to pinch-hitting duties for a while.

  17. Jean Machi named Red Sox closer

    Aug 30, 2015, 2:34 PM EDT

    machi getty Getty Images

    Machi owns a rough 5.21 ERA in 46 2/3 total innings this season between San Francisco and Boston, but the out-of-contention Red Sox will simply roll with what’s currently working as they play out the string.

  18. Video: Josh Donaldson puts the Blue Jays up early with his 36th home run of the season

    Aug 30, 2015, 1:47 PM EDT

    Josh Donaldson AP

    Josh Donaldson got Sunday Funday started early in Toronto with this first-inning solo blast …

  19. A.J. Burnett throws 70-pitch bullpen session, aims to return to Pirates rotation in two weeks

    Aug 30, 2015, 1:20 PM EDT

    A.J. Burnett AP

    A.J. Burnett has been out since late July with a strained flexor tendon in his right arm. There was some thought initially that the injury would be a season-ender (and thus career-ender) for the 38-year-old, but he’s beginning to make significant progress.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. G. Stanton (2527)
  2. B. Crawford (2358)
  3. Y. Puig (2314)
  4. G. Springer (2118)
  5. D. Wright (2041)
  1. J. Hamilton (2025)
  2. J. Fernandez (2005)
  3. D. Span (1932)
  4. H. Ramirez (1931)
  5. C. Correa (1913)