The Tampa Bay Rays’ biggest priority for this offseason will be finding a way to improve their dismal offense from 2014. Newly in charge President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman has already said that offensive upgrades will more than likely come through trades.
With the Rays’ infield and outfield set to be mostly intact for 2015 there aren’t many places the team can look to upgrade offense. One position that has been a bugaboo for the Rays throughout franchise history has been at designated hitter. The Rays will likely be looking long and hard at the trade market to see if there is any player in their price range that can upgrade their DH position. One player that could pique the Rays’ interest is Carlos Quentin.
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Carlos Quentin is a big middle-of-the-order, righty bat that has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career. The 32 year old has put up impressive numbers when healthy, especially in 2008 with the Chicago White Sox when he posted an impressive line of .288/.394/.571 with 36 home runs and 100 RBIs. Of course, Quentin’s best days may be behind him.
Since joining the San Diego Padres prior to the 2012 season Quentin has failed to play in more than 86 games and hasn’t reached 300 at bats in a season either due to injuries. This past season, Quentin only appeared in 50 games and posted a dismal line of .177/.284/.315 . A knee injury caused him to miss most of the season, but he is expected to be at full strength entering 2015.
The main reason the Rays would be interested in Quentin would be his potential when healthy. When he has been on the field, Quentin has always been able to drive in runs and deliver extra base hits. The last time Quentin has over 400 AB’s in a season was 2011, and he posted a solid line of .261/.374/.504 with 24 home runs and 77 RBIs. Even though he has missed time, though, he was still excellent when healthy each season aside from 2014.
Strikeouts are also not a huge issue with Quentin as he struck out in under 17.5% of his plate appearances each season from 2008 to 2013. His walk rate is also generally pretty good as he has a 9.2% career walk rate that has not fluctuated too much throughout his career. The fact that Quentin has always has a good plate approach bodes well for him as he ages.
Defensively, Quentin shouldn’t be playing the field. Quentin is a well below-average outfielder no matter how you slice it. Heading to the Rays, though, Quentin would only have to play left field in emergencies and he could play almost exclusively DH. That could also help mitigate the injury risk that comes with him.
Quentin will be entering the final year of a three-year extension he signed with the Padres and will be paid $8 million next season with a mutual option for 2016 for $10 million that his team won’t exercise. The Rays could perhaps alleviate some of the financial burden of Quentin by sending Grant Balfour back to San Diego in a deal. Both players could use a change of scenery and Balfour would likely have more success in Petco as well. Some other pieces might have to be involved (it may even make sense for Balfour to head to a third team), but the framework for a deal is there.
Acquiring someone with an injury history like Carlos Quentin does is always a huge risk, but the Rays could roll the dice on him if they believe a move to DH could help him stay healthy and continue to perform. The Rays have never been afraid to take a risk on a possible reclamation project before and Quentin could be their next success.