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For years now, Rays fans have been begging for offense. Most have wanted that big free agent splash which the Rays front office has tried giving them (Pat Burrell, Luke Scott, Cliff Floyd, etc) to mostly disappointing results. Over the course of the last week, the Rays have brought in two bats that will slot into the lineup most likely on an every day basis in former Oriole 1B/OF Steve Pearce and most recently, in a trade that sent fan-favorite bullpen lefty Jake McGee to the Colorado Rockies, 26-year old left handed bat, outfielder Corey Dickerson. The other part of the McGee trade brings in a 3B prospect in Kevin Padlo who was a fifth round pick in the 2014 draft by the Rockies. The Rays also sent 20-year old RHP German Marquez to Colorado.
McGee, who was limited in 2015 by injuries to just 39 games, still managed to put together impressive numbers to the tune of a 2.41 ERA with 48 strikeouts and just eight walks. Despite the rumors for weeks that the Rays were shopping both McGee and 2015 AL saves champion, Brad Boxberger, McGee avoided arbitration earlier this month and signed a $4.8M contract for 2016, leading most fans, and McGee, to believe he would be back with the team for the upcoming season.
So what exactly did the Rays get in return for their most consistent and effective bullpen arm in the last few seasons?
Corey Dickerson, who had his season cut short in 2015 due to plantar fascitis in his left foot as well as a broken rib, was coming off a 2014 campaign in which he slugged 24 home runs and drove in 76 while hitting .312 in 131 games for the Rockies. His raw power and success overall against righties is what the Rays also desperately needed after a dismal 2015 in that regard. Despite the injuries in 2015, however, Dickerson still managed to hit .304 with an .869 OPS in 65 games. Maybe something equally as important as Dickerson’s offensive potential is the fact that the Rays control him until 2020 when he can become a free agent.
With the crowded outfield after the additions of Dickerson and Pearce as well as signing Desmond Jennings back for the 2016 season before arbitration and Brandon Guyer still on the roster, the Rays have decisions to make in left field as it seems center will belong to Gold Glove winner Kevin Kiermaier and right field to Steven Souza Jr when Opening Day arrives. With McGee avoiding arbitration and still getting traded late in the off-season, it makes it more likely that moving Jennings or even Guyer could be a possibility.
For my money, here’s how I see it stacking up come April 3:
LF – Dickerson/Guyer (Jennings being traded sometime in February)
CF – Kiermaier
RF – Souza Jr/Pearce (Pearce can also play 1B and DH)
Crazier things have happened but that’s how I foresee it playing out once Spring Training is through and the Rays welcome in the AL East Champion Blue Jays for Opening Day at the Trop.
Stay tuned right here for any updates or breaking news as it happens!
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