Brandon Guyer has had a tumultuous career, largely in part due to injuries. This season, he finally made the Opening Day roster, and it looked as if he would play an important role on the big league club. However, Guyer has only gotten 21 plate appearances, and has only appeared in twelve of the Rays’ nineteen games, just four of which were starts. Why is he not being used more?
Yes Guyer is a rookie, and an old one at 28-years old, but he his a much more capable player than the Rays are giving him credit for. At the very minimum, he should be in the lineup against every left-hander the Rays face, as he has put up a .330/.411/.498 line against them in his time in the Rays’ minor league organization. His numbers against righties are almost as good, as he has hit them to the tune of a .296/.366/.484 line since 2011. Despite this, Guyer is only rarely starting, and is even being passed over for the likes of Sean Rodriguez and Logan Forsythe. He has proven himself offensively capable, at least in the minors, and should be getting more of a chance. It was thought that he would be David DeJesus‘ platoon partner in left field, and would also get the occasional start against a righty. Yet, the Rays have only elected to start him in four games, which is puzzling, especially with the offense’s struggles so far this season.
Not only does Guyer bring offense to the table, but he brings great speed, which gives him even more value. Thanks to outstanding range, he is an above-average defender. He fits the Rays bill, as he is more than capable of playing all three outfield positions. Because of the defense, he is always going to be valuable, even if the Rays are not big believers in his offensive ability. But, the Rays have not used his defensive ability to their advantage, and he has even remained on the bench late in the game while defensively challenged Matt Joyce mans left field. Also, Guyer could be used as a pinch-runner late in games. He is a capable basestealer, something his 22 steals in Triple-A last season proves, yet the Rays have not been using him as a pinch-runner. His speed and defense alone should net him at least a few more starts and some late game opportunities as a defensive replacement or pinch-runner, yet the Rays are not using this to their advantage.
Because of the lack of plate appearances, Guyer is off to a slow start, hitting just .143/.182/.190. Players need to play in order to stay fresh, but the Rays have not allowed Guyer to do that. Guyer came into the year out of options, which means that he would have to pass through waivers to be sent back to the minor leagues. Given his minor league success, he would almost assuredly be claimed, so the Rays gave him a major league roster spot to ensure he stays with the organization. It is almost like they are treating Guyer like a Rule Five draft pick. These players must stay on a club’s big league roster for an entire year for them to officially become property of that club. Thus, these players are often seldom used as they are not big league quality players yet, but clubs will keep them around so that they can send them back to the minors in the future. The problem with Guyer is that he can never again be sent back to the minors again without passing through waivers, while rule five picks can be sent down after the initial year on the big league roster. Guyer is an accomplished Triple-A player who deserves an opportunity to prove himself, yet he is being treated like a Rule Five draft pick, which does not make sense.
Anyway you look at it, it is hard to make sense of how the Tampa Bay Rays are using Brandon Guyer. If they do not believe Guyer is a capable player, then why keep him on the roster just so that they can keep him in the organization? If they do believe Guyer is a capable player that they want to keep around, then why is he playing so seldomly? Guyer is a capable player in my eyes, and should be given greater opportunities to prove himself in the major leagues. Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman usually make the right call on how often to put their players in the roster, but they should reevaluate how they are using Guyer.