Rays claim OF/1B Brandon Allen
UPDATE, 6:24: What did the Rays see in Allen? "Big bat and a lot of pop,'' Maddon said. "I know he's had a little bit of a swing and miss problem issue historically, but he's also had big power. We've done some work on it and have some ideas in regards to how to approch this whole thing. Primarily first base, he's played some in the outfield. And I heard he's a great guy. I heard he's an "80" makeup guy, which is the highest makeup grade you can give to an athlete.''
It sounds like the Rays initially will use Allen as a pinch-hitter and DH, though he could provide Carlos Pena with a chance to get a day off, rather than in the outfield. "I don't know to what skill level he is (as an outfielder),'' Maddon said. "I'm pretty sure he's a better first baseman from what I understand than he is an outfielder, but I don't know that exactly. The big thing is I know is that his bat plays really big. His numbers last year were pretty special in Triple-A. He's carried some pretty big Triple-A numbers so we have ideas in regards to possibly helping him. We'll see if it works.''
Allen is out of options, so the Rays have to keep in the majors, otherwise they would have to put him back on waivers to try to send him to the minors.
UPDATE, 3:28: Allen does have some power; check out the video clip of this blast at Yankee Stadium last season, estimated at 428 feet.
UPDATE, 3:21: Rays confirm they have claimed Allen, and say he could join them as soon as Friday. To make room on the 40-man roster, they moved C Robinson Chirinos to the 60-day DL. Chirinos has been out since sustaining a concussion in spring training.
Allen was designated for assignment by Oakland on April 9, to make room for the return of Daric Barton from the DL. Over eight seasons in the minors Allen hit .268 with a .355 on-base percentage and 142 home runs. Last season, he hit .299 with 21 homers and 72 RBI in 93 games for Triple-A Reno and Sacramento.
BREAKING: Per a Twitter post from his agent, OF/1B Brandon Allen has been claimed on waivers by the Rays.
Allen, 26, is a lefty hitting first baseman/outfielder, seemingly a more experienced player to fill the role held by rookie Stephen Vogt.
Allen has played parts of four seasons with the Diamondbacks (2009-11) and A's (11-12), with a .205 average and 11 homers and 38 RBIs (in 374 plate apperances). He has played in 109 big-league games, 52 last season, when he was traded July 31 in a deal for Brad Ziegler.
If Allen takes Vogt's place, the Rays would be looking at another roster move on Friday to make room for CF B.J. Upton, which most likely would involve either INF Reid Brignac, who could be send to the minors, or INF/OF Elliot Johnson, who is out of options and would have to first be exposed to waivers.
Johnson has started two games at second base, but is valuable in his ability to play every position, switch-hit and pinch-run. Brignac has started five games at shortstop and has been used as defensive replacement in three others.