Rays: 16 Things to Look Forward To in 2016
Number Three Thing to Look Forward to: More Capable OF
Kevin Kiermaier blew the doors off of 2015 defensively speaking and is one of the main reasons the Rays remained around .500 despite so many arms getting injured. Steven Souza and Desmond Jennings both lost some time to injury, providing an opportunity for both Joey Butler and Mikie Mahtook to prove themselves. The Rays decided to let one walk while providing Mahtook with an opportunity to earn a spot as the 4th OF in 2016.
There’s a good chance that Jennings gets dealt at some point, but for now we can look forward to the Rays rotation of Mahtook into any of the 3 OF spots, or Brandon Guyer in the corners, as they aim to keep everyone healthy and well-rested. With Mahtook ready to step into a prominent role in 2016, the Rays OF is more capable, athletic, and younger than it was in 2015.
However, of all outfielders, the pressure will be on Souza to step up his performance and prove the Rays made the right move in acquiring him to play RF. He’s 26 years old, approaching the peak years of his bat, and should be ready to prove it this season. That’s why we expect a substantial bump in OF performance in 2016.
Next: Number Four Thing to Look Forward to: More 1B Power