Rays Kicking The Tires On Free Agents

By Dustin Staggers

With Spring Training beginning in about two weeks for most teams, General Managers around the league are doing some last second looks around the Free Agent market and are finding some players that produced quite well in 2009. There are rumors that Andrew Friedman has looked into three of them specifically: Johnny Damon, Jonny Gomes and Orlando Hudson.

Damon – I would personally dislike this move for the Rays. Not only will he probably end up getting 4 to 5 million for two years from a team, he just doesn’t fit our team for multiple reasons. For starters, the Rays have too many OF’s in my mind already. With Carl Crawford and BJ Upton locked into OF spots, and Matt Joyce, Desmond Jennings, and Fernando Perez all with viable chances of becoming a starting OF for the Rays, Damon would seem like an excess type of player. While he had a very good season for the Yanks last year, the majority of his work came at new Yankee Stadium, a park tailor made for Damon. He hit for significantly less power on the road than at home, a difference that translated to a .915 OPS at home, and .795 OPS on the road.

He was also awful hitting at the Trop last season.

Gomes – While Damon would seem like excess because of his salary demands, Gomes will probably end up getting a minor league contract and an invite to Spring Training. Gomes experienced the 2nd best season of his career last year for the Reds, and ended the season with 20 HR and a .879 OPS.

If he were to make the team, as a DH, he would provide the Rays with real good power vs LHP. He also has the heart and fun loving nature, that is always appreciated in any MLB clubhouse. Gomes would be a good, low cost signing by the Rays.

Hudson – While Ben Zobrist would seem to be slotted in at 2b to start the year, and the signing of Hudson would most likely move Zorilla to RF permanently, Hudson is an outstanding veteran defensive IF, who can still use the bat. Signing O-Dog would seem to discount the possibility of Desmond Jennings making the team out of Spring, but this seems like a long shot anyways. More than likely, Matt Joyce or Fernando Perez would be the 4th OF and probably get around 200-300 AB’s with Zorilla still moving around the field and playing some DH.

He doesn’t exactly bring a lot of pop to the table, but can still hit for average and once again, bring a stellar glove to the IF. Him and Jason Bartlett would form one of the best defensive IF’s in the game, bar none. He would be worth 3 to 4 million dollars on a one year deal.