When Brandon Guyer came to the Rays from the Cubs as part of the Matt Garza deal, he represented a solid player who was not far off from the big leagues. Guyer was expected to be a solid player in the majors, playing everyday or at least providing a platoon option against left-handed pitchers. However, to this point Guyer has not been able to stick in the big leagues, in large part because of injury. Will Guyer finally get his call in 2014?
The future is now for Guyer, who played all of 2013 at age 27 in Triple-A. Guyer once again showed he was a solid hitter, posting a .301/.374/.458 line in 405 appearances. However, Guyer found himself missing time due to injury again. After missing most of 2012 with a shoulder injury, this year Guyer missed time due to a fractured finger. That was especially disappoining to both him and the Rays because he would have been a September call-up. The Rays know Guyer can hit, especially against left handers, however he simply has not been able to stay healthy long enough to finally get his chance in the major leagues. But 2014 could finally be the year where everything changes.
The Rays recently locked up David DeJesus to a two-year deal with a team option. DeJesus is a solid option, but he has not experienced success against left handed hitters for years now. DeJesus looks to start most of the Rays games in left field against right handers, but the Rays will need a platoon mate for DeJesus. The Rays’ default option is Sean Rodriguez, but Rodriguez is coming off just a mediocre year against lefties, managing a .252/.326/.419 line (102 sOPS+), with a strikeout to walk ratio of 46-13 that did not exactly inspire confidence. In addition, starting in left field against right-handed took Rodriguez away from his real strength, his versatility. Turning him from a super-utility player to a mediocre platoon left fielder prevented the Rays have maximizing his contribution to their team. The Rays will utilize Rodriguez’s solid hitting against lefties and they find him starts all over the field, but having a different player to platoon with DeJesus seems preferably. If that is the case, Guyer could be the Rays best internal option.
Since arriving in the Rays organization in 2011, Guyer has mashed left-handers to a .330/.411/.498 line in 247 plate appearances. That is a relatively small sample size, but the bottom line is that Guyer is a right-handed hitter who fits well with the Rays’ current roster construction and is talented enough to earn a big league role. siven his success against left handers, a Guyer-DeJesus left field platoon would look pretty good. In addition, Guyer does more than just hit lefties. His .850 OPS against righties the last three years is not too shabby either, giving him a chance to work his way into more playing time. Even if that does not happen, though, Guyer stands out thanks to his solid speed and defense. Guyer stole 22 bases in 25 tries at Durham this year, and he has stolen 133 of 161 in his minor league career overall, a very good 82.6% success rate. Meanwhile defensively, Guyer is a strong defender in the corner outfield spots, not having the cannon for an arm he used to possess following his shoulder injury but still showing very good range. Amid all his troubles the last two years, no one has denied that Guyer has a big league skill-set. The question was always going to be whether he would be healthy enough to use it.
The best thing that Guyer has going for him is that he is a cheap option for the budget-minded Rays. While a platoon outfielder is not too expensive on the open market, Guyer would be playing at the league minimum, which is cheaper than most options on the open market would be. The Rays will likely decrease their payroll slightly in 2014, therefore having a cheap option like Guyer already in the system is something the Rays will look to take advantage of. The Rays could use the money saved on an extra relief arm, or maybe even to help pay for a bigger name player at either DH or 1B. Being able to keep Guyer, who has the ability hold his own as a platoon player in the big leagues, is always something the Rays will have to consider.
Guyer will be given every opportunity by the Rasy to win a job out of spring training. He will likely compete for a roster spot with the likes of Sam Fuld, Matt Joyce (assuming he is retained), and Kevin Kiermaier, and he will go right down to the wire competing with all of them. Given DeJesus’ need for a platoon partner, Guyer fits in very well given his career success against lefties–it certainly stands out that he is the only right-handed batter among those four. Guyer will need to stay healthy in order to keep a job on the big league roster, and time is running out for him to establish himself as he will play 2014 at age 28. We are not talking about Guyer as a prospect anymore. However, Guyer still has plenty to offer the Rays, and he would make a fine addition to the roster as a platoon outfielder.