We can talk all day about whether the Wil Myers trade a success or disaster for the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals. Either way, it happened and both teams benefited from the trade as Kansas City got the frontline starting pitcher they wanted in James Shields, and Tampa Bay got a cornerstone player in Wil Myers. Let’s look at how Myers and the rest of the crew did this season for the Rays in right field.
Wil Myers- While the Rookie of the Year could use some help with the hair, there were not many detractors to his rookie season. Batting .293/.354/.478 (132 OPS+) with 23 doubles, 13 homers, and 53 RBI in half a season is already pretty good, and there is only room for improvement for Myers. He will hit for more power, get more comfortable in the outfield (I don’t think we are going to ask him to play centerfield again), and recognize pitches better. When the trade happened, there was this theory that Myers had a weakness against breaking balls. But according to Brooks Baseball, he did pretty well off sliders, hitting the second-most home runs off any pitch against them, and slugged .460. Curveballs were a little more sketchy, but his pitch value against them was not so bad at -2.0 and should only get better moving forward. When we see a prospect as talented as Wil Myers, sometimes we have an urge to nitpick. The future is bright for Wil, and we have 6 years of team control to see just how good he becomes.
While we know that Myers will be back, it doesn’t mean you should neglect the position if there are players that can help. So are there any players that can help the Rays?
Shin-Soo Choo- The Rays would love to have him delivering a .400 OBP out of the leadoff spot, but he is priced out of Tampa Bay’s budget…by quite a bit.
Mike Morse- Morse was hotly discussed as being a mid-season acquistion for Tampa Bay, and while that never came to fruition he could now be a free agent acquisition for the team. 2013 was a bad year for Morse as he hit to a .215/.270/.381 line in 337 plate appearances with lowest OPS+ of his career (84) and just 13 home runs. Perhaps his right quad strain that caused him to miss 42 games was more detrimental then he thought and pushed himself to play when he shouldn’t have. The positive side of that, though, is that Morse’s down year could price him right into the Rays’ budget. Morse is one of the few hitters in free agency that has hit 30 home runs in a season, and even after he underwent surgery on his left wrist in October, teams covet his power. He might be an everyday first baseman/DH with some occasional outfield duty for Tampa Bay, and the potential for more playing time on a contending should be more enticing than being a part-timer somewhere else. At this year’s trade deadline, the Rays were pushing hard for both David DeJesus and Morse. They acquired DeJesus a few weeks later and then extended him this offseason. Could Morse be coming along as well?
Roger Bernadina- A former top prospect of Washington, Bernardina’s career has never come to fruition like the way the Nationals had hoped. Bernadina is a good runner, can play the entire outfield, has shown solid plate discipline in the past, and has a really good arm. The problem has always been that he can’t hit as evidenced by a .239/.307/.359 career line. His raw tools have always been salivating to watch ,and he will find another deal just based on the potential for him to break out. Bernadina chose free agency after being outrighted by the Philadelphia Phillies after 2013 and could provide a good value to the Rays. The problem is that he hits lefty and has been platooned against lefties his entire career, and the Rays already have three lefty-hitting outfielders on the active roster. Nevertheless, if the Rays could get Bernadina on a low-cost deal, it may be too tough to say no.
With Wil Myers playing every day in right field, the Tampa Bay Rays do not need to look for everyday options in the market, just role players who can provide value in other ways. Morse and Bernadina lie on the opposite edges of the spectrum as players, with Morse being a power bat and Bernadina being a speed and defense-oriented backup, but both have the ability to contribute to the Rays’ 2013 effort if the financials work out for them to come aboard.