The Tampa Bay Rays acquired Jose Siri in a 3-team trade before the deadline. The Astros' castoff had too many players ahead of him in their outfield depth chart but is sure to get more playing time in St. Pete, and just a couple of games into his Rays tenure, he is already having a noticeable impact on the field.
Mere innings into his Rays debut on Tuesday night against the Blue Jays, Siri made a spectacular sliding catch in center field to get his team out of a runners-on-the-corners jam. The catch would have had a crucial impact on the game's outcome if the Rays were able to get on the board before the 9th inning, as it saved one run and if Luke Raley didn't back him up in right field, it's possible that both runners would have scored had the ball gotten down for a hit.
According to Statcast, Siri had a 5% chance of making this catch, but he used his blistering speed to hustle over and get them out of the inning. His sprint speed of 30.3 feet per second makes him one of the fastest players in all of baseball, and it's the reason he was able to make the catch look so easy: his slide wasn't emphatic, but he got such a good jump that it didn't need to be.
On the season, Siri has been worth 8 outs above the average player in center field. Despite only having played 50 games, that mark is tied with Byron Buxton, Michael Harris II, and Christian Pache for first among center fielders. If his bat was consistently good enough to keep him in the lineup every day, he'd probably be a frontrunner for a Gold Glove.
On Wednesday, Siri made an impact on the offensive front as the Rays forced a split in the mini two-game set. He went 1 for 4 with 3 strikeouts, but his 1 hit helped win them the game. He led off the 6th inning with a single off Adam Cimber, and once again used his elite speed to steal second base. Fellow newcomer David Peralta singled him home from second to give the Rays a 3-2 lead, and that ended up being the deciding run. They had multiple runners on base after Peralta's single, but no one else managed a hit. That stolen base ended up being the difference in the game.
Across the 2 games against the Blue Jays, Siri struck out 5 times. He has a career slugging percentage over .500 in AAA but hasn't been able to get his bat going at the major league level for a prolonged period of time. However, his sliding catch and his stolen base are two examples of how he can still be a positive contributor in pivotal moments. With Kevin Kiermaier out for the season and no longer being the player he used to be, Siri is due to get plenty of run in center field, and if his bat can adapt to MLB pitching on a more frequent basis, he'll make more of an impact than anyone could have expected.