Welcome to the next installment of Tampa Bay Rays vs. the AL East. Today we focus on shortstop.
The Tampa Bay Rays have one of the league’s best defensive shortstops who also packs some pop with the bat. In this series, we will preview how the rest of the American League East stacks up to the Rays at the most skilled defensive position on the infield. On Deck: Baltimore Orioles
AL East 2B Team Previews:
AL East 3B Team Previews
AL East SS Team Previews
Toronto Blue Jays Fangraphs 2020 Projected SS WAR: 1.5
The Orioles appear to be set with veteran shortstop Jose Iglesias for the 2020 season. Iglesias is known for his glove. He has never walked more than 28 times in a season and has a career slugging percentage of .371. He does have a career batting average of .273 to go with his good defense. The Orioles signed him to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million this past (or current) offseason with a team option for 2021.
The Orioles have their eye on the future, but the future is far enough away that they need a stopgap. The Orioles have no interest in winning games or spending money at this time. Their best player from last season was Jonathan Villar. Rather than pay him $8.2 million in arbitration, they placed him on waivers and said good-bye.
According to MLB Pipeline, Gunnar Henderson is the top SS prospect in the system. The problem is that he is only 18-years-old with an ETA of 2023. Adam Hall is the next prospect on the list that could make an impact. He is rated as the 13th-best prospect and has posted some solid numbers, but again, he just finished playing in Single-A in 2019 and currently has a major league ETA of 2022. So, Jose Iglesias, it is!