Would the Rays consider bringing back Steven Souza Jr.?
By Austin Reimann
In a bit of a surprising move by the Arizona Diamondbacks, former Tampa Bay Rays outfielder, Steven Souza Jr., was non-tendered. Would the Rays consider bringing back the former Ray?
Everyone loved Steven Souza Jr.
Everyone from the fans to his teammates and especially the broadcast crew who would analyze his obscure facial expressions on the daily. But, now that he is a free agent would the Tampa Bay Rays consider bringing back the lovable outfielder?
Across three seasons in Tampa Bay Souza Jr. played in 378 games and provided a nice bit of power in his final season with the Rays.
Numbers with the Rays:
- .753 OPS // 106 OPS+
- 63 HR // 167 RBI
While it is true that he was a strikeout machine in Tampa Bay, the Rays are always on the lookout for affordable power and that is exactly what Souza jr. could provide. In his final year with the Rays, he hit a career high 30 bombs and drove in 78 runs. His .459 SLG% was also a career high.
But, amid numerous injuries, Souza Jr.’s bat never lived up to the hype during his time as a Diamondback. In 2018 he played in only 72 games, dealing with a shoulder injury that dated back to Spring Training and only slugged .379. He missed all of 2019 after tearing his ACL, LCL, posterior lateral capsule , and a portion of his PCL during a Spring Training game last March.
Now on track to be ready for Spring Training, it is unknown where Souza Jr. will land. He was projected to make 4.1M in arbitration but will likely sign for less.
With the departure of Avisail Garcia and the non-tendering of Guillermo Heredia, the Rays could use an additional right handed hitting outfielder and while Souza Jr. may not be the most glamorous choice, he is an option nonetheless.
But, the Rays are in a position to win now and unless they feel as though Souza Jr.’s swing is only a few slight changes away from returning to its 2017 form, I would assume that a reunion is unlikely.
If they weren’t in a position to win now, this would be an entirely different story and a reunion would make total sense especially with their history of bringing on players in similar situations to Souza Jr.’s.
Instead the more likely landing spot for the former Rays outfielder will likely be on a lesser team with a more immediate need for an everyday right fielder. Look for the Rays to instead turn their attention to former Mariner’s outfielder, Domingo Santana, who like Souza Jr. was surprisingly non-tendered.
I recently wrote an article with the folks over at SoDo Mojo about what a possible trade for Domingo Santana could look like, but now they wouldn’t even have to trade for him.