Well, that was fun while it lasted. For the second time this offseason the Rays have been reported to be in “serious” talks with a free agent only to come up short. The first time it was Josh Willingham and now it is Carlos Beltran. Marc Topkin is reporting that the Rays are out of the Beltran sweepstakes. The Rays were unlikely to be able to meet his high price tag but is always fun to dream about a bat like Beltran’s.
Now that the Rays are out on Beltran a new, cheaper option is emerging. Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal are reporting that the Rays could be in on Rockies outfielder Seth Smith. Smith is expendable after Colorado signed Michael Cuddyer. Seth Smith could be right up the Rays alley as a cheap DH to be acquired through trade. The Rays may not be able to outbid other teams but they can certainly wow with trade offers.
The Rockies have been included in trade talks all offseason for starting pitching, so the Rays could probably send the Rockies Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis and get this deal done. Smith would be a good DH and outfield option for the Rays. In 147 games last year he hit .284 with 15 homers. He doesn’t have amazing power, but he has a good bat with decent pop that could be stuck in the middle of the Rays order. Smith would be a good DH option if the Rays are able to sign a power-hitting first baseman like Carlos Pena.
Smith has a decent glove, so he could easily be stuck in the outfield to give Matt Joyce a rest or to give Joyce a day off against lefties. The only problem I have with Smith is he may be too similar to Matt Joyce. He has a little less power and a better average than Joyce, but he is a lefty who struggles against lefties, just like Joyce. Matt Joyce is good, but we don’t need two of him.
In the end, the only way I see the Rays going after Seth Smith is if they are confident they can sign a power-hitting first baseman. Smith would be a good bat for the Rays and could easily be obtained by sending the Rockies a starting pitcher. He is not the power hitting DH the Rays have been looking for, but he is certainly an improvement over Johnny Damon.