With the free agency of Carl Crawford, the Rays have a big hole to fill in left field. But who will take over for him? Some believe Desmond Jennings will step right in and take over, but this is not a sure thing. There are several candidates out there that could take over for CC. Let’s take a look at some of the names that will be mentioned over the next few months.
Desmond Jennings – One of the Rays top prospects struggled in limited at bats for the Rays. He is very fast and athletic, but his hitting is questionable. Will he be able to hit consistently for the Rays? No one questions his speed and defense, but if he struggles in spring to hit, he won’t be out in leftfield to start the season and may end up back in Durham.
Ben Zobrist – AKA the “Swiss Army Knife” for the Rays, Zobrist could play leftfield for the Rays. He is very versatile and in his time in the outfield, he played well, displaying a strong arm. His offense was down this season for the Rays and Maddon loves to use him in different positions, so I am not certain he would be a permanent replacement in left.
Matt Joyce – Normally a rightfielder, Joyce could shift over to the left. He has a solid arm and good speed to get to the ball. He struggled at the plate however late in the year and had a hard time against left hand pitching. He will have to improve at the plate in order to get more playing time and a shot to be out in the outfield.
B.J. Upton – Don’t yell at me yet. Upton is a great outfielder and moving over one position would not be a big change for him. Zobrist played center for several games, so Upton is expendable to move around the field. Chances are he won’t be moved and will stay in center (or traded).
Leslie Anderson or Fernando Perez – Both minor leaguers are fast rising for the Rays. Anderson has emerged on the scene for the Rays and has been hitting well. He will certainly be in spring training and the Rays will see how good he is against better pitching. Perez has been called up before, but struggled at the plate while he excels in Durham. The Rays will take a hard look at him as well (maybe even Elliot Johnson as well in Spring).
So here are just some of the possible names that could fill in for CC. The Rays will look at the free agent market as well, but the list of possible replacements is solid.