Rays options at 1st base

By Unknown author

One of the biggest needs the Rays have in the off-season is to find a DH or first baseman. The Rays offense was predictable and lacked the consistent home run, power threat in the middle of the lineup. Carlos Pena was average, hit below .200, and missed time due to injury (over age 30 now). The Rays will be limited in the free agent market, but will have to find someone to add some punch to the lineup.

Carlos Pena is a free agent and has stated he would like to remain a Ray, but is this a possibility or even a smart move? Pena had a bad season, hitting under .200 and missed a large portion of the season with a bad foot. His power is starting to diminish and strikeout numbers are on the rise. He is still a solid first baseman, but without the power and batting average, he is not the best solution to the problem. With only 10 million to spend on free agents to fill the roster, the Rays may have to let the fan favorite go.

Dan Johnson is a possibility. Johnson was destroying the minor leagues when he was called up, but struggled throughout the season, but he was still adjusting to the speed of the majors. He is a decent glove in the field, able to play third base as well, and does have some power in his open swing. He is eligible for arbitration and could find a new home, but the Rays may keep him because he is not a big name player and could fill in.

Ben Zobrist could play 1st as well. The jack of all trades is the Rays utility man and can play anywhere on the field, but he is not a power hitter and had a down season. The way Maddon likes to shift his lineup and move players all over the place, Zobrist could be warming up in the bullpen at some point, so Zobrist is not the ultimate solution for 1st. There is also Leslie Anderson, who is down in the minors and had a solid season. He has some power and could be an option to call up during spring and could make the roster.

The Rays are very limited in what they can do in the free agent market (no more hitters from the National League please). They won’t go after Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, or any other big names because the lack of money to spend. The Rays will pick up either a young name that no one has heard of or a veteran player that can platoon with Zobrist and the roster we have now (Andruw Jones perhaps?). Whatever Freidman and Sternberg decide, they need to make it count and spend their money wisely.