After coming over to the Rays last offseason, Zunino struggled immensely at the plate and eventually lost his starting role to Travis d’Arnaud. As of now, he is pegged as the Rays starting catcher and they are hoping for a bounce back season.
Last offseason the Rays sent Mallex Smith to the Mariners for Mike Zunino in a five player deal. The expectation was that Zunino would bring power to the lineup and great defense behind the plate. The latter
of the two happened, but his pop did not travel with him to Tampa.
Zunino struggled immensely at the plate in 2019 and by the end of the year he had lost his starting job to Travis d’Arnaud. 2019 was the worst season of his career at the plate and a strained quad that limited him to 90 games surely didn’t help.
- 90 G
- .544 OPS // 44 OPS+
- 9 HR // 32 RBI
His performance last season was a far cry from his usual offensive output which is why the Rays likely took a gamble on Zunino. In 2017, he hit .251 with 25 bombs and a 125 OPS+. The hope is that he can trend in this direction and provide a real threat in the lineup. Even if he can’t return to that level at the plate, the Rays still highly value his defensive capabilities and his ability to work with their pitching staff.
If he does have a bounce back season, the 4.5M he is owed in 2020 will be a bargain for the Rays.