ST. PETERSBURG — With free agent SS Asdrubal Cabrera headed elsewhere, the Rays will look primarily at internal candidates Tim Beckham and Nick Franklin to step into the role.
But they may have to make that decision without knowing if either is ready to play every day because they haven't seen them play enough, a conundrum that can't be readily solved.
"It's a good question," manager Kevin Cash said. "If they are, they've got to get consistent real quick, and that comes with consistent playing time. As an organization, we have to find out about that. But to say one's ready or not, that's kind of difficult given the sporadic playing time. We like a lot of the things they do at times.
"We saw firsthand what a consistent major-league shortstop does. Cabby was perfect, and good for them to watch. But I don't think it would be fair to say one way or another."
Beckham started 22 games at shortstop this season, Franklin five. Prospects Daniel Robertson, who played at Double A in 2015, and Taylor Motter, a Triple-A All-Star as a utility man, are other possibilities.
Baseball operations president Matt Silverman didn't rule out a more veteran acquisition, saying "we'll be monitoring that market through the offseason."
COACHING UP: With Cash finishing the first of a five-year deal, all his coaches are expected back. All are already signed through 2016 except first-base coach Rocco Baldelli, who said Monday night he plans to return.
WINTER BALLERS: Franklin is planning to play a few weeks of winter ball in Puerto Rico, Motter in the Dominican Republic. … In addition to shortstop, Robertson will play second base in the Arizona Fall League though Cash said that was just to get additional at-bats. … RHP Alex Colome will pitch, in relief, in the Dominican Republic, as will LHP C.J. Riefenhauser in Venezuela.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Rays open spring training Feb. 19 in Port Charlotte with the first exhibition game March 2 at home vs. the Nationals.
MISCELLANY: Asked for a prediction, Cash picked the Blue Jays to win the World Series. … Silverman said they would talk with Cabrera and free agent DH John Jaso but know both plan to explore the market. … 3B Evan Longoria will be the "social captain" at the Lightning's Thursday opener. … Gold Glove awards, with CF Kevin Kiermaier considered a strong favorite, will be announced Nov. 10.