The Tampa Bay Rays face some tough decisions with their 40-man roster. It is already full with 40 players, and the Rays have two players who need to be activated from the 60-day DL in Matt Moore and Jerry Sands. Plus, that does not even account for multiple prospects that the Rays need to protect from the Rule 5 draft. Thus, the Rays will need to decide on who to keep around on the 40-man. Is Sands deserving of one of these spots?
Sands, 27, came over to the Rays via a waiver claim prior to the 2014 season. In his big league career, Sands has been fairly unspectacular. In 82 games, he has hit .240/.317/.372 while spending time at all three outfield spots and first base. This year, Sands was called up by the Rays in June, and he hit .190/.227/.333 in 12 games before a wrist injury ended his season.
These big league numbers are certainly underwhelming, but in the minors Sands has been a completely different story. In parts of seven minor league seasons, Sands is a career.275/.364/.522 hitter, and in 373 Triple-A games he has hit .265/.347/.485. This year in the Rays system, Sands hit .268/.352/.474 with Triple-A Durham.
Sands has flashed great power in his career, and he also plays decent defense in the corner outfield and at first base. The Rays love versatility, and they certainly could use a power bat. However, Sands’ problem has been his total inability to establish himself at the big league level. Each year that he cannot do so, he looks more and more like a Quad-A player, and you have to wonder if at 27-years-old his chances of establishing himself are running out.
Still, Sands still seems like he could at least become a valuable piece of a big league team. However, it is not likely that the Rays are going to be that team. Currently, the Rays are stacked in the outfield, and there is already not enough playing time to go around. James Loney has first base locked down, which leaves Sands without a position on the Rays’ roster. Sands is out of options, so if he were added to the 40-man roster he would have to make the team out of Spring Training or be designated for assignment anyways. With no clear way for him onto the roster and him having no options left, there is no reason to give him a 40-man roster spot.
Sands remains a nice piece to have in the organization, and the Rays will hope to find a way to keep him around. Sands will be added to the 40-man roster but will immediately be designated for assignment, but the Rays will hope he can pass through waivers and elect to remain with the Rays organization. Sands actually passed through waivers last offseason when the Rays designated him for assignment, so there is a possibility he will do so again. Still, Sands is redundant on the Rays roster, and that is why he will not keep a hold on one of their precious 40-man roster spots.