If the Rays trade Kiermaier, who will play CF?
The biggest question that would remain is who would fill the void left by Kevin Kiermaier since Mallex is gone? Well there are is one option that can leave the Rays with two righty impact bats. That is to move Austin Meadows to center (his natural position) and sign local product Andrew McCutchen to a 2 year deal and await the arrival of Jesus Sanchez. Along with signing McCutchen, the Rays could also then sign Nelson Cruz
This move is the most logical. It gives the Rays the chance to add two impact bats to their everyday lineup. Moving Austin Meadows to center opens up right field for Andrew McCutchen. I recently wrote an article about why the hometown kid might be an under the radar fit in Tampa Bay and it can be found here. McCutchen can play center if Meadows goes down with an injury Guillermo Heredia can play right field.
The Rays have also shown they are comfortable with playing Brandon Lowe, Joey Wendle, and Daniel Robertson in the outfield if they choose their bat over Heredia’s. Signing McCutchen for two years allows Jesus Sanchez to develop without being rushed. In 2021 he can step right into a corner outfield position.
Adding both McCutchen and Cruz along with the subtraction of Kiermaier further balances out the Rays everyday lineup and alleviates the need to go get a replacement at first base. Baurers can assume the everyday role with Ji-Man Choi splitting time there and at DH.
The prior addition of Mike Zunino and the signing of McCutchen would account for Cron’s production, if not exceed it and they technically would not need to sign Cruz and instead give Ji-Man Choi the DH job. But they would have the flexibility to sign him if they still felt the need to.