The Rays entered the offseason looking to add a right-handed hitting catcher with pop and they accomplished just that when they acquired Mike Zunino. The Florida native has a great defensive reputation and just needs to find some consistency at the plate.
The Rays also entered the offseason looking to alleviate the log jam in the outfield that consisted of capable fielders, three of which batted from the left side. The Rays decided to stick with Kevin Kiermaier in center, hoping that he can put together a strong injury free 2019.
They also decided to give Austin Meadows the full-time job he deserves whether it be in right or left field. The highly touted prospect who came over from the Pirates in the Chris Archer trade, will now get a chance to play everyday.
With the starting outfield shaping up to be Pham, Kiermaier, and Meadows, Guillermo Heredia is likely the 4th outfielder, giving Kevin Cash a right-handed option off the bench. I don’t expect Heredia to be in Tampa too long, with Joe McCarthy ready in AAA.
Trading for Zunino was also the cheaper option for the Rays behind the plate and they can now reallocate the money saved towards a starting pitcher and impact bat. I like the overall lack of high level prospects the Rays gave up in this deal as they remain assets for future trade talks.
Want your voice heard? Join the Rays Colored Glasses team!
All in all, the Rays killed more than two birds with one stone with this 5 player swap. They saved money at the catching position, freed up space in the outfield for Meadows, and got a catcher with pop and two years of control.
In my opinion, this was a win-win for Tampa and Seattle.