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Tampa Bay Rays: Alexi Ramirez to Plug the Hole at Shortstop

By David Egbert
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Needing an everyday shortstop with Matt Duffy done for the remainder of the season, the Tampa Bay Rays filled the void with a solid free agent signing.

Just when the Tampa Bay Rays thought they had formed a solid infield for next year, Matt Duffy went down to surgery on his cranky Achilles.

However, Duffy will be ready for next season but in the meantime, the group is missing valuable playing time as a unit.

Since the season must go on the Tampa Bay Rays needed a stopgap at shortstop.

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They had a number of options to temporarily replace Duffy, but I think they did  right with this acquisition by signing free agent Alexei Ramirez.

The 35-year-old Ramirez has played nine years in the major leagues including eight with the Chicago White Sox. His White Sox career was solid as he hit for some power and went to the All-Star game in 2012.

The San Diego Padres signed him last year and released him a week ago after he played 128 games for them. He put up decent but not spectacular numbers for them but the team wanted to go in a different direction.

Ramirez is past his prime but he brings experience and a little power to the shortstop position. He will cost the Rays less than $100,00.

The other choices were a little more complicated.

They could have moved Brad Miller back to shortstop but that would have meant two changes to the infield alignment. It also would put Miller back at the position the Rays told him he was not qualified to play.

You don’t want to mess with someone’s head too much.

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Another possibility was to bring back Tim Beckham from minor league exile. He was sent down to Durham after not hustling on the base paths on several occasions.

After being the team’s number one draft choice in 2008, Beckham has had a checkered career with the Rays and the latest gaffes seem to be the final straw.

Look for the Rays to move him over during the off-season. It’s a shame because Beckham has legitimate power and could start at second base some day.

Taylor Motter was another possibility but he is more of a utility player than everyday shortstop. He also, for some reason, is in the Rays’ doghouse and was not even promoted as a utility man when the rosters expanded.

Say tuned on this one.

Last but not least, is Daniel Robertson. A former number one pick of the Oakland A’s, he came to Tampa Bay in the Ben Zobrist deal and spent 2016 at Triple-Durham.

He’s the team’s No. 12 prospect and had been seen as the shortstop of the future until Willy Adames entered the picture. Robertson had a solid but not spectacular year at Durham but was not used exclusively at shortstop and saw playing time at second and third.

Robertson is only 22 years old and not on the 40-man roster. It will be interesting to see how his future plays out.

Ramirez will probably not be re-signed even though he would be inexpensive and has some versatility.

The Rays have too many other choices for backup infielders.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Duffy Shut-Down with Season-Ending Surgery

Nevertheless, he will play a valuable role as Duffy’s temporary replacement and allow Brad Miller to continue to learn to play first base.

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