A couple names that have been brought out as possible options for the Rays are outfielder Rick Ankiel, who was released by the Washington Nationals, and New York Mets right fielder Lucas Duda, who would have to come via a trade. Let’s talk about whether those two really make sense for the Rays to go after.
Ankiel, 33, is a passable defensive centerfielder with a halfway-decent bat and some pop. He has a .244/.306/.422 career batting line including a .236/.292/.377 line with the Nationals the past two seasons with 30 doubles, 14 homers, 52 RBI, and 11 of 17 stolen bases in 190 games and 586 plate appearances. His power has been great at times, including a 25-homer season back in 2008, and he also has some speed, stealing 10 bases in 2011 for the Nats, but very poor plate discipline holds him back (ironic because he used to be a pitcher who gave out free passes all the time). Ankiel is basically the outfield version of Brooks Conrad, and if he is willing to come cheap, the Rays may give him a look. He probably would have been a better option earlier in the season, before Sam Fuld began his rehab, but you never know how things turn out and the Rays will give Ankiel a look.
Duda, 26, is a horrific defensive outfielder but one who can swing the bat a little better than Ankiel. He has posted a .261/.344/.438 career line including a .246/.350/.401 line with 10 doubles, 12 homers, and 44 RBI this season with the Mets in 86 games and 344 PAs. He has good plate discipline and a little pop, and he’s cheap and under team control for a while as he won’t be arbitration eligible until after the 2013 season. But he lacks defensive flexibility, able to play just the corner outfield spots and first base, and he’s not good at any of those positions, and he’s not exactly a stable bat either. Duda is a player who looks to hit for more power moving forward with his big 6’4″, 255 frame, but if he doesn’t have it already, you can’t assume it’s ever going to come. Add in the fact that the Rays would have to trade for him and he’s not coming to Tampa Bay.