Jason Coats had been released by the Tampa Bay Rays back in January, but he was not out of work for long. The Rays have resigned the outfielder to a minor league contract.
Back in January, the Tampa Bay Rays had claimed Jason Coats off of waivers from the Chicago White Sox. He was a relatively interesting player, having flashed solid power and speed numbers in the minors. In 2016, he had a .330/.394/.519 batting line in the International League before making his Major League debut. While he did not perform as well at the Major League level, with a .200/.298/.340 batting line in 58 plate appearances, Coats minor league track record was such that he deserved a longer look.
And so, the Rays had claimed Coats back in January. Unfortunately, his tenure with the team got off to a rough start, as Coats tore his UCL on the same day he was claimed. Naturally, the Rays released him, rather than keep him on the roster given his injury status.
However, considering that he will be out for the year, Coats was not unemployed for long. The Rays have signed Coats to a minor league deal, where he will remain on the disabled list for the season. As he underwent Tommy John surgery back in January, he will not be ready to play again until next season.
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However, in signing Coats, it gives the Rays the opportunity to see what he can do next year. Coats may well have been a part of the outfield competition this season had he not been injured, and had a solid performance during the Spring. Now, that chance may have to wait a year.
It is possible that he can still be a part of the competition in 2018. Although he may not be able to throw immediately when Spring Training begins, Coats may still be able to swing the bat and get a look as a designated hitter in some game action.
However, when Coats can return to the field, he could prove to be a versatile outfielder. He has played in all three outfield positions in the minors, performing well defensively. He notched 23 outfield assists in right, showing his strong arm prior to the injury. If the arm comes back, and he has that same ability to throw, Coats could prove to be a perfect fourth outfielder in the coming years.
Jason Coats still has a chance to contribute to the Tampa Bay Rays. It just might take a year longer than both sides hoped.