This week could mean one of two things for the Rays: it could be the week that kick-starts the 2012 season or the week that leaves us wondering. Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings begins today in Dallas. The Winter Meetings are a gathering of top executives from each team as well as agents and top free agents trying to land a deal. It is the one time all offseason that all of MLB’s general managers are in one place at one time, leading to tons of trades and big signings.
The Winter Meetings could be huge for the Rays. As Andrew Friedman mentioned earlier in the week, the Rays have some holes to fill. They are in need of a first baseman, a DH, and another reliever or two. The Rays probably won’t be able to fill all of the holes, if any, this week, but it all starts with discussions in Dallas. I would expect the Rays to make some kind of move this week, but don’t be alarmed if nothing happens, because there could be some discussions that we haven’t heard about yet.
Arguably the biggest hole the Rays have to fill is the hole at first base. Casey Kotchman is a free agent, so the Rays need to go after a first baseman. They could always re-sign Kotchman, but he isn’t the best fit for the Rays needs.
There have been many rumors this offseason as to what the Rays could do, whether they trade a starting pitcher for a first baseman or they sign a free agent. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Rays linked to Carlos Pena, since he fits in well with the Rays need of a left handed power hitter. He had a bounce back season with the Cubs in 2011, so it will be interesting if the Rays make a push for Pena. The Rays could also try to pull off a trade, whether it be a blockbuster for a guy like Joey Votto or a smaller deal for a younger guy. If they can’t do either of those, they could try to take a flyer like they did with Casey Kotchman.
The other big hole the Rays have to fill is the hole at DH. This one is a bit easier since the Rays could very easily re-sign Johnny Damon and have the hole filled. Damon doesn’t have as much power as the Rays would like, but he is a great veteran presence and would apparently love to come back. Beyond Damon the Rays could sign a minor free agent for DH or look to within. Of course, there is always Manny Ramirez, who Buster Olney thinks could possibly be linked to the Rays, but it is unlikely. If the Rays sign Manny, Andrew Friedman would most likely be run out of town since Rays fans weren’t exactly happy with Ramirez after his early season suspension and retirement.
The Rays would also like to sign another reliever or two, but this is the least likely to happen. If the Rays do land another reliever, it would most likely be a guy like Juan Cruz, coming off of injury or struggles that could be had for cheap and revived with the Rays.
The Winter Meetings has a chance to be busy for the Rays, or a complete dud. The Rays could make some big signings or trades if they want to, so we will see what Andrew Friedman has up his sleeve for the week. At this point, all Rays fans can do is sit back and wait for things to unfold.