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Tampa Bay Rays: Desmond Jennings Nearing Deal with Reds

By David Hill
Aug 2, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Desmond Jennings (8) reacts and falls to the ground after he fouls a pitch off his foot and Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez (13) looks on at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 2, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Desmond Jennings (8) reacts and falls to the ground after he fouls a pitch off his foot and Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez (13) looks on at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Desmond Jennings never really panned out for the Tampa Bay Rays. His next chance to tap into his potential may be coming with the Cincinnati Reds.

Desmond Jennings was expected to be the next Carl Crawford for the Tampa Bay Rays, an exciting player that could hit for some power while burning up the basepaths. While he did display some of that potential, hitting double digit home runs for four consecutive seasons, and stealing 20 or more bases three times, he never quite became the player that the Rays hoped he would become.

A free agent after being released by the Rays, Jennings may have found a new home. According to Chris Cotillo of SBNation.com, the Cincinnati Reds are closing in on a minor league contract with the former Rays outfielder. This includes an invitation to Spring Training.

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Right now, there are two major questions with Jennings. The first is whether or not he can remain healthy over a full season. His last two years with the Rays were curtailed due to his injury issues, and as those injuries involved his legs, it remains to be seen as to whether or not he has truly recovered.

In tandem with those questions about his legs, one has to wonder if he can get back to his previous level of production. More of a solid complementary piece instead of a future star, Jennings has been at replacement level or lower in each of the past three seasons. He has struggled mightily in the past two years, with a .222/.295/.347 batting line and just eight home runs and seven steals in 92 games. That batting line was worth an OPS+ of 78, as he was 22% below replacement level.

At just 30 years old, there is still plenty of time for Jennings to resurrect his career. With the Reds, a team that is rebuilding, he is a worthwhile lottery ticket, a player that could serve a valuable role as a fourth outfielder if he is healthy. If he is not, and can no longer produce at the level he once did, then it really did not cost the Reds anything.

Next: Rays sign Cory Rasmus

Desmond Jennings is close to having another chance as he is reportedly about to sign with the Cincinnati Reds. Hopefully, the former Tampa Bay Rays outfielder can get back to being the player he once was.

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