For the Tampa Bay Rays, the future appears to be upon us. It seemed to take a while. But, the top prospects with the Durham Bulls seem to be approaching playing time at the Trop.
Tonight marks the beginning of the big league career for Jake Bauers. Finally, one of the key pieces in the 2014 trade of Wil Myers gets to display his abilities. He’s done it in Spring Training. But, tonight it begins for real. And, this is a good sign for the Tampa Bay Rays. They are finally able to promote players from the talent-rich Durham Bulls.
But, as we talk about promoting players from Durham, there will need to be a corresponding move with the big team. Adding Jake Bauers resulted in a fairly clear one-for-one move. While difficult, the Rays have DFA’d Brad Miller. The Rays are on the hook for what remains of his $4.5 million salary for the 2018 season.
Next up needs to be their prize. Top prospect Willy Adames needs to join Jake Bauers if the Rays are truly moving forward with their future. But, making room for Adames is going to be much more difficult for the Rays.
Clearing the way for Willy Adames
A few weeks ago, Willy Adames got a three game taste of the major leagues. In that time, he produced his first big league home run. Of course, that was made possible by the injury to regular shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. Ultimately, the Rays could do the same thing with Hechavarria that they did with Miller. If the Rays can’t find a taker for him, and it’s currently difficult with Hechavarria sidelined, they can DFA him. Like Miller, he’s only signed through the end of the season. And, he’s due what remains of his $5.9 million contract.
But, while moving Miller clears a spot for Bauers, the path to the starting lineup isn’t as clear for Adames. The Rays find themselves with a nice problem to have. They have infielders beyond Hechavarria. Matt Duffy is pretty much entrenched at third base. It’s going to be difficult to move Joey Wendle off second. Daniel Robertson certainly has earned playing time. When Adames makes the jump, he clearly will play everyday. Finding playing time for this batch of infielders is going to be a challenge.
I see Daniel Robertson fitting into the role that Ben Zobrist made famous. He’ll most likely move all over the infield, giving everyone days off here and there, And, on some days, it won’t be surprising to see him show up at first base. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him get starts in the outfield. Whatever the options, it’s a nice problem to have for the Rays.
And, with all this said, I still haven’t found a place for Christian Arroyo. He is yet another prospect looking for playing time on the left side of the infield. If the Rays are truly looking to the future, he will also merit regular playing time.