You have to give Matt Silverman credit. He didn’t just sit around and tell everyone that when the team got it’s injured players back everything would be ok. He went out and made three trades and one signing and brought in four position players that could change the way the Rays approach next season. Were they the right four players? Only time will tell. In the meantime, let’s take a look at those four players and what they bring to the party.
He seems to be the centerpiece of Silverman’s moves. Dickerson is a young, left-handed hitter with power who is under control for four years. He’s not a monster power hitter but seems capable of batting in the number three spot and hitting 25 homers and driving in 75 runs or more over a full season.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that he only has a sample of one full season in the major leagues. After a great 2014 season, he was hurt for much of last year. His 2014 season featured a great performance in hitters friendly Coors field and lesser performance on the road. He also had a much better season against right handed pitchers. Dickerson is also only an average outfielder. So the question becomes do you have a full time power hitter with upside or a limited position player with some pop.
Obtained from Seattle in the Nate Karns deal, Morrison has been a solid power hitter through his six year career. His breakout season was 2011 when he hit 23 homers, drove in 72 runs and had a .797 ops. For the next three years he was a part time player and then returned to full time work in 2015. His 2015 season showed some power with 17 homers but a slash line of .223/.302/.383. He’s probably going to be the Ray’s DH in a platoon situation but he can play first base or left field.
Morrison looks to be the Rays 2016 DH against right-handed pitchers with some possible playing time at first base or left field. A move from Safeco Field to Tropicana field should help his power numbers. With the right platoon partner, Morrison could end up in the middle of the Ray’s bating order and produce some nice numbers.
I must say that I don’t get this signing. They paid Pearce over $4 million dollars for a one-year deal to be a part time player. Yes, Pearce can be a nice part time player against left handed pitching but they already have Desmond Jennings, Brandon Guyer and Tim Beckham as right handed hitters looking for at bats. And if that wasn’t enough, Mikie Mahtook and Richie Shaffer are knocking on the door. Pearce can DH, play first base or left field and, in a pinch, third and second.
As far as his career, Pearce has played nine years as part time player with four different teams. Most of his success has come over the last three years with the Orioles. In 2014, he hit 21 home runs and drove in 49 runs in some 294 at bats. He can be a valuable platoon/bench player for the Rays. The only question is where are the at bats going to come from. We’ll see how it all shakes out.
For the second year in a row, the Rays have tried to fill their gap at shortstop by trading for a young infielder from Seattle. In 2015 it was Nick Franklin and this year is was Brad Miller. Franklin failed to make the team but the Rays hope Miller will not go down that path. Last year, Miller hit 11 homers and drove in 46 runs in 438 at bats and the Rays will take that kind of production out a left handed hitting shortstop. Of further interest is that Miller’s main competition, right handed hitting Tim Beckham, hit 9 homers and drove in 37 runs in 203 at bats. Add that to Miller’s totals and you have 20 home runs and 83 runs driven in out of the shortstop position over a full year.
The real question is whether Miller can be an everyday shortstop. Many scouts see him as a centerfielder or a Ben Zobrist type utility player. The Rays will certainly take the latter but they would prefer that Miller win the shortstop job outright or at least share it with Beckham. This competition will be one of the major stories in spring training.
Silverman certainly did not sign a Jason Heyward or Chris Davis but he added a lot of pieces that, if used properly, will result in a lot more runs scored. However, we should never forget that the offense runs through Evan Longoria and no one else on this team has come close to having three seasons with 25 or more home runs and three seasons with 99 or more runs driven in. If Longoria comes close to matching those numbers, the Rays are a team to be reckoned with. If not, all the new pieces Silverman assembled still may not add up to post season play.