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Tampa Bay Rays: Tindering the Non-Tenders, who to swipe right on?

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 14: In this photo illustration, the icon for the dating app Tinder is seen on the screen of an iPhone on August 14, 2018 in Miami, Florida. The co-founders of Tinder and eight other former and current executives of the dating app are suing the service's current owners for at least $2 billion. (Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 14: In this photo illustration, the icon for the dating app Tinder is seen on the screen of an iPhone on August 14, 2018 in Miami, Florida. The co-founders of Tinder and eight other former and current executives of the dating app are suing the service's current owners for at least $2 billion. (Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Steven Souza Jr.

In 2017, Steven Souza Jr. broke out with the Tampa Bay Rays. He followed up his 17 HR season in 2016 with a 30-homer campaign the subsequent year.  Souza set career highs with the Rays that season with 78 RBI, 15 steals, a .351 OBP, .459 SLG, 21 doubles, 84 walks (fifth in AL)and 78 runs scored. He posted a WAR of 4.1 that year. Souza was a stud.

The only drawback to his game is the strikeout. 2017 also saw him reach a new summit for K’s with 179, good (or bad) for sixth in the AL. He struck out 75 times in 2018 in only 241 ABs. He has racked up 564 strikeouts in 471 games played in his career.

Nevertheless, Steven Souza went to Arizona with plenty of excitement around the multi-faceted outfielder. Rays fans have many positive memories of Souza, D-Backs fans: not so much.

In two seasons in Arizona, Souza Jr. played in a total of 72 games. He dealt with injuries throughout 2018 and missed all of 2019 with a knee surgery.

If you combine the propensity for striking out and the injuries that have plagued his past two seasons, Souza should be signed to a minor-league contract. This would be a perfect fit for the Tampa Bay Rays due to only having one spot available on the 40-man roster. A minor-league contract for Souza would give the team a chance to assess how his recovery has progressed without any guarantees to the player.

Souza will need to prove that he can be the player he was before Arizona. If he’s healthy, he can provide defensive versatility with some real pop from the right side, not to mention his ability to draw a walk. If he can provide the power, speed, defense, and walks, the Rays can overlook a few extra strikeouts…especially on a minor league deal.

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