Evan Longoria has bemoaned the loss of a clubhouse leader with Logan Forsythe’s trade. Extending another veteran presence could go a long way to assuaging those concerns.
Of all the players that could be considered veterans on the Tampa Bay Rays, Kevin Kiermaier would be the best fit for such an extension. He exemplifies what the Rays had been during their run of success; a stellar defensive player who can hit for some power while possessing solid speed.
Set to turn 27 years old at the start of the 2017 campaign, Kiermaier is just about to enter his prime. He has already become one of the best defensive players in the game, winning consecutive Gold Glove awards while making the impossible catches seem routine. He has become a daily web gem, a player that one does not take their eyes off of on the field.
Offensively, Kiermaier is starting to come into his own. Even though he missed two months with a broken hand, he still produced a career high 12 home runs and 21 stolen bases. While his batting average fell to .243, Kiermaier improved his on base percentage by 33 points last season, showing much better plate discipline and contact rates.
As Kevin Kiermaier is entering arbitration, he is going to start to become more expensive, especially if his offensive production continues to improve. This may be the perfect time to lock him in on a long term deal.