The Tampa Bay Rays acquired Logan Forsythe this past offseason with hopes that he could be a versatile, lefty-masher now and a starting second baseman in the future. But, Forsythe has struggled early this season, putting up just a .156/.255/.222 line and a 44 wRC+ in his 51 PA’s. He has also has hit lefties to just a .638 OPS, well off his career .779 mark. Given his early struggles, Forsythe should be demoted to the minor leagues to iron out his issues.
Forsythe is a capable player, and he still has a bright future ahead of him. But, right now he is not producing. Usually I am a fan of giving players plenty of opportunities to fix their issues, but there are not enough at-bats available for Forsythe to do so. He is not going to play everyday on this Rays team, and has no real consistent playing schedule, so he is going to struggle to get going because of it. To get him going, the Rays should send him down. It would only need to be until Forsythe can get on a hot streak. At his best, Forsythe could be a starting second baseman for a lot of teams, so there is no real worry that he would be sent to the minors and get lost in the fold. But, it is worth send him down for a couple of weeks to try to get his bat going and then calling him up once he is finally hot.
If the Rays Triple-A affiliate, the Durham Bulls, were not so hot, then this might be different. But right now, they have six players hitting over an .800 OPS. Is Forsythe a better player than these guys? He probably is, otherwise he would not have made the opening day roster over them. But sometimes you have to ride the hot hand to maximize production out of your team. Forsythe has an option, so you do not lose anything by sending him down. Also, the Rays have open spots on the 40-man roster, so they would not have to designate anyone for assignment in order to call-up a player not currently on the 40-man. If Forsythe’s issues continue and the Rays indeed wanted to send him down, who would they be calling up?
The Rays would probably want to call up a left-handed hitter, as that is the one area where their bench lacks. They would also want an infielder, as that is where Forsythe spends the bulk of his time. The problem is, they don’t really have a lefty that would be ideal to call-up. Kevin Kiermaier is on fire, posting a .847 OPS so far, but the Rays are not going to want to call him up and risk stunting his development by not playing him everyday. Vince Belnome is a lefty infielder, but he is off to an early season slump. Wilson Betemit is a switch-hitter and is a proven big league caliber player, but he too is off to a slow start this season, putting up just a .729 OPS. Maybe Betemit would make the best long-term call-up option, but if Forsythe is being sent down to iron out his issues, whoever is being called up would likely only be with the club for the short-term, so you need to bring up a hot hitter.
In the end, Jerry Sands makes the most sense, even though he is a right-handed hitter, and also unable to play the middle-infield. The Rays would be going with just three players, Ben Zobrist, Yunel Escobar, and Sean Rodriguez, capable of playing shortstop or second. This would not be ideal, but hopefully Forsythe would be in the minors for just a couple of weeks until he got things going, and the offensive boost would make it worth the tradeoff. Sands is the best option for a multitude of reasons. He is the hottest bat at Triple-A, putting up a .357/.446/.671 line so far, but at the same time he is 26-years old and his development is not going to be stunted by a short stay on the big league bench. He also offers better ability to sustain his numbers than guys like Cole Figueroa or Mike Fontenot, who are also hot, but who are not quite the hitters that Sands is. He isn’t the best fit in the world, but if the Rays want to get Forsythe regular at-bats and get a boost to their bench in the same time, then Sands is their man.
Logan Forsythe is a quality player, and will be an important part of the Tampa Bay Rays future. But, right now he is not producing in the big leagues, and he needs to be sent down to the minors for a couple of weeks to iron out the kinks in his swing. The Durham Bulls are on fire, and have plenty of players that could be called upon, but Jerry Sands makes the most sense of them all. We will see soon if the Rays think that this is indeed the correct way to handle Forsythe’s early season slump.