The offseason is not officially here, with the St. Louis Cardinals leading the San Francisco Giants 3-2 in the NLCS with the winner taking on the Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series. However, the Hot Stove season has begun, with the first major trades happening Saturday. The Oakland Athletics traded middle infielders Cliff Pennington and Yordy Carbrera (who spent 2012 at High-A) to the Arizona Diamondbacks for centerfielder Chris Young. Then the Diamondbacks traded Cabrera to the Miami Marlins for Heath Bell and cash considerations. The four players involved in the two trades all have something in common: they’re players who showed nice ability in the past but struggled to disastrous 2012 seasons. Other than the fact that this was the first major trade since the end of the regular season, this trade also affects the Rays because it gives the A’s way too many outfielders as Young joins Yoennis Cespedes, Josh Reddick, Seth Smith, and Coco Crisp, and considering the Rays have a need in the outfield, a trade between the two teams could be a possibility.
The Rays actually made a move themselves on Saturday, outrighting Rich Thompson and RHP Wilking Rodriguez down to Triple-A Durham. As Marc Topkin talked about on Twitter, the Rays are doing these moves now because they need to take Brandon Guyer and Robinson Chirinos off the 60-day DL. Thompson appeared in 25 games for the Rays this season but is really just a spare part backup outfielder, while Rodriguez, 22, has electric stuff but dealt with injury problems in 2012 and was only at High-A even when he was healthy. He is hypothetically exposed to the Rule 5 Draft now, but it seems unlikely that he will be selected given his injury problems and lack of any experience above A-ball. The Rays are excited to welcome Guyer and Chirinos back after season-ending injuries, shoulder surgery for Guyer and a concussion for Chirinos, and both have the talent to contribute to the Rays’ big league effort in 2013.
Topkin also wrote about how the Rays’ are considering adding a second hitting coach to pair with Derek Shelton to ease his workload and hopefully deliver the best possible offensive product on the field. Three MLB teams had two hitting coaches in 2012 and the Phillies will also have a two-coach situation in 2013. At this point, the Rays might as well try everything possible to generate some offense- although the most important thing is going to be to acquire some bats to bolster their lineup (more on that later today).
Speaking of the Phillies, they recently hired Steve Henderson to be their principal hitting coach. Henderson was the Rays’ hitting coach in 1998 and from 2008 to 2009. Topkin speculated that the hiring of Henderson may make the Phillies the favorite to sign B.J. Upton.