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Tampa Bay Rays: Why Not Casey Gillaspie at First?

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Mar 29, 2016; Dunedin, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays hat, gloves, helmet and bats lay on the field before the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 29, 2016; Dunedin, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays hat, gloves, helmet and bats lay on the field before the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Tampa Bay Rays are reportedly searching for a right handed bat to plug into the lineup, extending the search to first base. But what about Casey Gillaspie?

Once Logan Forsythe was traded by the Tampa Bay Rays, it left a gaping hole in their lineup. Nominally, the Rays would search for a second baseman as a stopgap, allowing their young players time to develop. Instead, as the options available are less than inspiring, Tampa Bay is considering free agent first basemen, with the idea that Brad Miller could move to second instead.

In this case, the biggest problem would be the Rays financial situation. These players, while they may be relative bargains, could still be outside of the Rays comfort zone. So, what about an internal option? What about Casey Gillaspie getting a look at first base this season?

The 20th overall selection in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft, Gillaspie has rocketed through the Rays system. Last year, Gillaspie reached the AAA level at just 23 years old, and held his own. In his 47 games at Durham, he produced a .307/.389/.520 batting line, hitting seven home runs and 13 doubles.

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Overall, in splitting his time between Montgomery and Durham, Gillaspie produced a solid season. He led the Rays minor leagues with 18 home runs, while hitting at a combined .284/.388/479 rate. In 560 plate appearances, Gillaspie drew 80 walks while striking out only 117 times. His 34 doubles also hinted at more possible power to come as he continues to develop.

A switch hitter, Gillaspie could also fill in the specific need that the Rays have in mind for the lineup. They have sought a right handed bat, and as a switch hitter, Gillaspie can provide additional value. He would also be a cost effective solution, playing at the league minimum, which could allow the Rays to look for another left handed reliever.

As the Rays look forward, they are going to need their minor league talent to begin to produce at the Major League level. With a collection of solid young arms, the Rays need to find pieces that can help fill out the lineup. A player like Gillaspie, who could develop into a solid home run hitter, could be a part of the solution.

Next: Who gets the next long term deal?

The Tampa Bay Rays are looking for a first baseman. Why not Casey Gillaspie?

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