If there is one thing that the Rays love, it is an undervalued asset. If that player can also play multiple positions while providing a blend of power and speed, then so much the better. If that type of player is available for virtually nothing, and provide a potential upgrade, then the Rays may be willing to give that player a look.
With the Washington Nationals release of Roger Bernadina, the Rays may be able to acquire exactly that. Bernadina has never truly lived up to his expectations, but has performed reasonably well at times. After two mediocre seasons in 2010 and 2011, he seemingly took a step forward in 2012, producing a .291/.372/.405 batting line with five home runs and fifteen stolen bases as a fourth outfielder. He had become more patient, increasing his walk rate while striking out less, and seemed to be a solid option off the bench.
This season, he had regressed horribly. Bernadina’s walk rate has decreased to close to previous levels, while his strikeout rate has spiked, helping to lead to a horrific .178/.247/.270 slash line. Any gains he had made last year appear to have disappeared, and with them, so has the Nationals patience. With the acquisition of David DeJesus, Bernadina was released on Monday.
Already, there has been reported interest in Bernadina, with the Phillies being the team most prominently mentioned. Yet, he could also make sense for the Rays as well. Bernadina has played all three positions in the outfield, splitting his time fairly evenly across all three. While Bernadina is unlikely to be confused with the likes of Sam Fuld or Desmond Jennings, he has proven to be somewhat capable in the field. He could also add a bit of power from the bench, something that, aside from Kelly Johnson, the Rays could potentially use.
Bernadina has shown flashes that he could be a solid major league piece, having hit double digit home runs and stolen fifteen or more bases three times. At only 29 years of age, there is still the potential that he could put everything together and possibly provide a team with a solid power/speed threat at minimal cost.
Roger Bernadina may have just needed a change of scenery. Perhaps the Rays could give him a chance as a fourth outfielder.