When the Rays designated Jerry Sands for assignment to make room for lefty Pedro Figueroa on the 40-man roster, we were certain that they would only do so if they thought Sands would pass through waivers. As it turns out, they were right. Joe Smith tweets that Sands has passed through waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A Durham. The Rays will extend him an invite to spring training, and he still has a chance to make a big league impact at some point in the year.
Sands was able to pass through waivers thanks to his age (26) and his rough year at Triple-A in the Pirates organization in 2013, but he still has his strengths. In 1337 Triple-A plate appearances, he has hit to a .264/.347/.487 line, and he also has a decent .244/.325/.376 line (96 OPS+) in 251 big league plate appearances. He combines power with solid plate discipline and good versatility–he has experience at all three outfield spots and first base, also getting into two games at third in the minors. He is especially good against left-handed pitching, managing a .316/.372/.532 line in 86 MLB plate appearances and a .258/.357/.481 line in 378 PA’s in the minors. The Rays are constantly looking for players whose abilities outweigh what teams think of them. In Sands, the Rays found a way to stash a player at Triple-A who has a chance to be a solid platoon player at the big league level as soon as this season.
Between keeping Sands and signing Jayson Nix, it is clear that the Rays are amassing plenty of depth on the right-handed corner outfield front. With David DeJesus and Matt Joyce both needing platoon mates, the Rays need options to spell them. Suddenly they have them. Sean Rodriguez and Brandon Guyer will get first cracks at the job, but in Sands, Nix, and James Darnell the Rays have three more options in case of injury or poor performance. The presence of so many possibilities also means that the Rays could explore a trade for Rodriguez knowing that they have to depth to survive it without an issue.