After losing some big right-handed power in free agency, let’s go dumpster diving with the Tampa Bay Rays to find a bargain-basement player that can play first and third.
The Tampa Bay Rays lost two big right-handed bats in free agency. Travis d’Arnaud has already sealed a two-year deal with the Atlanta Braves and Avisail Garcia is still being courted. The last game the Rays played in 2019 (Game Five of the ALDS) d’Arnaud and Garcia were the fourth and sixth-hole hitters. Needless to say, we need to address the right side of the plate.
The Rays DFA’d third baseman, Matt Duffy and first baseman, Jesus Aguilar. General Manager, Erik Neander likely has his eyes on better values available in the market place. Ji-Man Choi and Nate Lowe – both lefties – logged the majority of the innings at first base last season. The majority of the remaining innings were picked up by Yandy Diaz, Jesus Aguilar, and Travis d’Arnaud.
Yandy Diaz only covered 398.1 of 1474.1 innings at third for the Rays last season. By designating Matt Duffy for assignment the Rays lost their number two option at the hot corner.
The Rays were rumored to have shown interest in Howie Kendrick this offseason. According to MLBTradeRumors.com, Kendrick is slated to snag a $12MM contract in free agency. I have a feeling the Rays will be unwilling to pay a premium for his 2019 success when there are values to be had from guys who didn’t have such an unusually good 2019 season like Kendrick did.
I set some parameters for players to make this list. First, the player could not be listed inside the top 50 of MLBTradeRumors projected contracts. The last spot on that list is a $3MM deal, so we are looking at less than that. The player has to have some defensive flexibility, being able to cover first, third, or maybe even an occasional outfield assignment. Thus I have omitted players who only play first base.
Let’s be clear before proceeding, this is not a wish list. We are taking a look at guys with little to no financial risk from the bottom of the barrel of free agency. These names may not blow your socks off… right now. So read through them and let us know if any of these guys could make an impact in 2020 for your Tampa Bay Rays.
Here are the top five free agents that fit the criteria.