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What Are Tampa Bay Rays’ Goals for the Winter Meetings?

By David Egbert
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On Sunday, Matt Silverman will join executives from twenty-nine other teams at baseball’s Winter Meetings in San Diego. Most of the executives will be looking to fill holes in their team’s 25-man roster, move aging and/or overpaid players, and add to their farm system. In the case of the Tampa Bay Rays, it’s probably a combination of the three. They need to supplement the 25-man roster with a leadoff hitter, another power bat, and bullpen help. As always, they are also looking for prospects.

In order to accomplish their goals, the Rays will showcase a trio of outfielders that includes Matt JoyceDesmond Jennings, and David DeJesus. The Rays absolutely have to trade at least one of them–they are currently set to have six outfielders on their 25-man roster and there is not enough playing time to go around.

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Jennings could bring the most return if the Rays did decide to deal him. He has a tantalizing upside with speed, defense, and some good power. The problem is that he can’t put his offensive package together and can’t decide whether he is a line drive or a power hitter. His strikeouts and inconsistent plate discipline are also troubling. However, some team will like the speed-defense part of his game and think that he is going to break out at the plate. He probably is the Rays best bargaining chip when to look for a power hitter.

Joyce is the player they would most like to include in a deal. While he has power from the left side, that’s where his game begins and ends. Hall of Famer Al Kaline once called Joyce one of the best pure hitters he had ever seen. However, those skills have not translated to the big leagues and he is simply a platoon player against right-handed pitching.

Joyce gave the Rays a glimpse of what he might have been with an All-Star year in 2011 but he has been a streaky hitter for the other four years. He’s scheduled to make around $5 million in 2015, his last team under team control. A team in need a lefty bat and willing to deal with his flaws should give the Rays a decent prospect or two in exchange for Joyce.

DeJesus, meanwhile, has been a solid player for a long time, but disappointed in 2014. He’s guaranteed $5 million in 2015 plus a $1 million buyout for 2016. DeJesus is a quite similar player to Joyce, only he is older and coming off an injury-plagued year, making him more likely to stay.

All of this means that Matt Silverman is going to have to get creative if he wants to come out of the Winter Meetings with a power hitter and a reduction in the team’s salary base. Jennings, Joyce, and DeJesus are available, and will Silverman be willing to add in other pieces like young starters Alex Colome and Nate Karns to facilitate higher-profile deals?

Two of the more interesting names bring tossed around are Brandon Moss of Oakland and Evan Gattis of Atlanta, but Silverman has a variety of options as he hopes to improve the Rays’ lineup. It should be an interesting week in San Diego and let’s hope that the Tampa Bay Rays come home from it a better team.

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