Looking Back, Moving Forward: Chris Gimenez’s Role

By David Hill

September 18, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays catcher Chris Gimenez (16) against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field. Boston Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 7-5. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

If there is one thing that the Rays value in their players, it is versatility. Given their tendency to base their lineup on matchups, having players that are capable of playing multiple positions has been a major part of that philosophy. Typically, players that fit that type of utility mold can play virtually anywhere on the field, except as a catcher. Yet, primarily being a catcher, while being able to play other positions, is what could potentially make Chris Gimenez an intriguing player next season.

One of the few battles during Spring Training last season was for the Rays backup catcher position. Gimenez played well, hitting .368/.390/.526 during the spring, but was sent to Durham since he had an option left. He spent the entire season in Durham, appearing not only as a catcher, but also playing at both corner outfield positions, third base and even appearing once at first.

Gimenez was essentially a non-factor for the Rays this season, having only four plate appearances after being called up in September. However, despite being relegated to the minors for much of the season, Gimenez could end up playing a part for the Rays next season.

With greater versatility than the typical backup catcher, Gimenez could potentially give Joe Maddon more options in setting his lineup and seeking advantages in the lineup. By being able to play in the outfield as well as catch, Maddon could potentially pinch hit more often in a critical spot, knowing that a player like Gimenez can be waiting on the bench.

However, there is a flaw in the plan – Gimenez just simply has not hit well during his time in the majors. In parts of five season, Gimenez has only hit at a .199/.292/.293 rate. Yet, looking at his splits, Gimenez has been solid against left handed pitching during his career, hitting lefties at a .292/.380/.372 clip.

With his ability to hit lefthanded pitching, and generally league average defense at four different positions, Gimenez is someone that could play a role with the Rays next season. However, given that he will be entering 2014 at age 31, it is unlikely to expect that he would become anything beyond a role player.

Chris Gimenez could carve out a role with the Rays. Put in the proper situations, he could even surprise in 2014, and be a solid option for Maddon off the bench.