Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Agent: Rays' Jennings healthy, will be ready for season

BOCA RATON — Desmond Jennings has played in only 28 of the Rays' past 190 games going back to August 2014, primarily due to assorted issues with his left knee that ultimately required surgery.

But as the Rays plan for 2016, they are expecting him to play leftfield on opening day and most days beyond.

Agent Scott Boras said Wednesday that Jennings is healthy and ready for the opportunity at what will be a critical juncture in his career.

"He's fine," Boras said during a one-hour-plus media session at the GM meetings. "The doctors have cleared him, and he should be ready to go and be set for the whole season."

Jennings, projected to make around $3.5 million via arbitration despite his abbreviated season, was set to return late last season from the latest knee issue but needed oral surgery due to a severe tooth infection.

Boras also represents RHP Brad Boxberger, who after leading the American League with 41 saves could be the subject of trade talks, though for a significant return in his final season before the salary hike that comes with arbitration eligibility.

"I wouldn't know," Boras said. "He's been successful there. And if your suggestion is that anyone that becomes successful in Tampa is traded, I'll let you tell them that."

RAYS CHATTER: The Rays have what might be too much catching depth on the 40-man roster, potentially having to decide soon between J.P. Arencibia and Rene Rivera as the backup to Curt Casali, with prospects Luke Maile and Justin O'Conner in the minors. If they opt to move on from both veterans, another option could be lefty swinging Al Avila, the former Tiger who is now a free agent. … Current scout Kevin Ibach is the likely choice to take over as director of pro scouting, filling the void of Matt Arnold's departure. … CF Kevin Kiermaier won the Rawlings Gold Glove, but Toronto's Kevin Pillar on Wednesday was named the centerfield winner of the data-driven Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award. … Bo McKinnis, agent for former Rays ace David Price, is at the meetings starting work on what might be the biggest contract of the offseason. … Former Rays/current Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez was the ninth and final candidate to interview for the Dodgers' managerial job.

MEETINGS MATTER: MLB is looking to stage regular-season games in Mexico and Europe during the next five seasons, MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said, but would need Player Association approval. … Discussions will continue on a potential rule change regarding slides into the bases as a result of the Chase Utley incident during the playoffs. … Chief baseball officer Joe Torre said the replay system has "worked pretty well," but there might be some adjustments, such as whether runners should be called out when they come off a base momentarily after sliding in safely. … There also will be continued discussions on maintaining consistency in strike zone definition and pace of game initiatives. … Negotiations on a collection bargaining agreement are likely to start in the spring. The current deal expires Dec. 1, 2016.

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