Sean Rodriguez had a season of frustration in 2012, blowing a wide-open opportunity to seize the Rays’ starting shortstop job, finally receiving consistent at-bats in the latter part of the season against left-handed hitters only to get set down to the minors in August because he had an option remaining, and then topping off his year by punching a locker after an argument with a teammate and breaking his hand right as he was about to be recalled to the majors. It was a season that Rodriguez would like to forget. The good news for him is that he may just get another chance. Rodriguez and the Rays agreed to a one-year, 1 million dollar contract to avoid arbitration, and if Rodriguez plays well, he just might work his way back into the lineup.
One player who will not be coming back to the Rays next season is Drew Sutton. The Rays may have been interested in bringing back Sutton if he was willing to stay at Triple-A Durham as infield depth, but Sutton has instead signed a minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox. Sutton played in 31 games with the Red Sox back in 2011. Sutton has played in 8 organizations in his 9-year professional career and he actually has a solid 93 OPS+ in 308 big league plate appearances, so good luck to him finally holding down a big league job.
Finally, Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports has reported that the Rays are one of five teams interested in former Rangers reliever Mark Lowe. In 36 appearances for the Rangers in 2012, Lowe, 29, posted a 3.43 ERA, a 6.4 K/9, a 3.0 BB/9, and a 1.1 HR/9 in 36 relief appearances and 39.1 innings pitched, missing a month and a half with an intercostal strain. Those numbers are solid, especially at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, although the DL stint, which was Lowe’s fifth stint of 30 more days on the DL since 2006 according to Baseball Prospectus, is extremely concerning. However, if Lowe can stay healthy, the reward could be quite big. According to Brooks Baseball, Lowe’s fastball averaged 95 MPH in 2012 and he paired it with a sharp slider in the mid-80’s and a usable changeup. With stuff up that level, Lowe has late-innings upside, and while he’s not about to become the next Fernando Rodney, he could certainly play a key middle relief role for a major league team next season. The “problem” with Lowe is that he really was not that bad next season so teams actually know what he brings to the table and want to sign him. Lowe made 1.7 million dollars in 2012 and might actually be due for a raise next year. But the money should not be too substantial and if Lowe wants the perfect place to refine his mechanics and reach his potential, Tampa Bay is the perfect place. Look for the Rays to make a run at Lowe, and if he can sign and stay healthy, he could very well become the next Rays reliever signed to a cheap contract to become one of the best relievers in baseball.