Jun 29, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) hits a solo home run in the sixth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Rays won 12-7. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Within a 48-hour period, the Tampa Bay Rays’ outfield has dramatically changed.
The Rays had a surplus of outfielders heading into the offseason and used that deep talent pool to add to their bullpen and minor league system.
So what does it leave them with in the outfield?
Currently, the Rays have Brandon Guyer, Desmond Jennings, David DeJesus and Kevin Kiermaier on the 40-man roster. Minor leaguer Mikie Mahtook, who has yet to play in the big leagues but is on the cusp of an opportunity, is also on the 40-man roster.
In a nutshell, the Rays outfield is still solid. It’s not spectacular but it’s effective, especially defensively.
Kiermaier is an elite defender — you could argue better than Sam Fuld was — and has a very good bat (34 extra base hits) to go along with his glove.
Guyer spent the entire 2014 season with the big league club hitting .266 with three homers. He dealt with injuries, including a fractured left thumb, but seems poised to improve in 2015.
The biggest question mark is Jennings. He had his worse year as a Ray, hitting just .244 with 10 homers in 123 games while dealing with a persistent knee injury. However, as rumours grew surrounding the Rays dealing an outfielder, Jennings’ name never came up.
Apr 20, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Brandon Guyer (5) catches a fly ball against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
“[He is] an incredibly valuable player all around, and there’s a reason why he’s a mainstay in our lineup and a big part of our plans,” Silverman told the Tampa Bay Times earlier this month.
DeJesus was the third name that came up in trade rumours but nothing materialized. Like all Rays outfielders last year, he too dealt with injuries, playing in only 83 games. He’s owed $5 million in 2015 and he’s one of the team’s most experienced players. His fielding skills aren’t what they use to be and there’s a good chance he continues to DH in 2015 to keep him off the Tropicana Field turf each night.
The Rays outfield in 2015 would likely see Guyer in left field, Jennings in center and Kiermaier in right. The latter two could switch though due to Kiermaier’s speed and elite fielding abilities.
If the injury bug hits the Rays outfield again, Mahtook would be in a prime position to make his major league debut. The Rays also have Steven Souza who they acquired in the Myers trade who could add a bat with pop to the line-up and has major league experience already.
The Rays’ outfield has had a makeover due to the two trades, but they’ll still field a solid group on a daily basis that will field well, steal bases and do damage with the bat.