There are very few benefits from a player getting injured, but as they say, when one door closes another door opens. Brandon Guyer‘s injury is an unfortunate one for both him and the Rays, as he was finally starting to establish himself in the big leagues. But with his injury does open the door for Cole Figueroa to extend his stay on the MLB roster for a couple more weeks.
After spending the majority of the last three seasons at Triple-A Durham, Figueroa made marked improvements with his bat this season, which led to the call-up. With the big league team, he has been serving as the left-handed side of a second base platoon. His .250/.250/.333 line is nothing to be excited about, but in his 7 games played Figueroa has been involved in some exciting moments. In the Rays recent 3-game walk-off streak, Figueroa scored one of the walk-off runs and drove in another. He did make an error in Sunday night’s game, but other than that he has brought solid defense to the table at second base.
Now with Guyer’s injury, Figueroa will likely remain on the MLB roster for the time being. Ben Zobrist‘s anticipated return on Friday was expected to push Figueroa back down to the minor leagues, but now that Guyer is hurt that likely won’t be the case. The Rays will call-up a player in Guyer’s stead for the next few days, but it is likely that player will be sent back down to accommodate for Zobrist’s return. It would seem logical that the Rays would want an outfielder to replace Guyer in the long-run, but with Sean Rodriguez, Logan Forsythe, Matt Joyce, David DeJesus, Wil Myers, Desmond Jennings, and Zobrist all capable of playing the outfield, that won’t be necessary. Rather, the Rays will keep the best player available on the roster, and thanks to solid defense, versatility, and his improved bat, that player is Figueroa. You could argue that Kevin Kiermaier could end up being the better option, but he can’t be called-up right now and is also being hobbled with a leg injury. The Rays also want to keep him playing everyday rather than sit on the big league bench for an extended period of time. Thus, it still seems Figueroa is more likely to be the Rays preferred player.
It seems likely that Figueroa has found himself with a roster spot at least until Brandon Guyer returns from his injury in around three weeks. He is never going to be a slugger in the middle of an order, but thanks to a solid all-around skill set, he is the type of player that can help his club when everyday. Cole Figueroa has an extended big league opportunity on his hands, let’s hope that he can use it to leave a lasting impression on the big league coaching staff.