As giddy as they are about the future impact of starting pitcher Jose De Leon after acquiring him from the Dodgers, the Rays must address the now of filling the void created by 2B Logan Forsythe's departure.
The easy answer is to turn the position over to a deserving understudy, but neither Tim Beckham, Nick Franklin nor rookie Daniel Robertson seems like a sure-enough thing to justify doing that.
Or they could just go out and get a new second baseman, either via trade or free agency, albeit with few appealing options, such as Chase Utley, Aaron Hill or Gordon Beckham.
But these are the Rays, which means they will try to think of a different, more creative, not too expensive and, they hope, better way to maximize their roster.
So what now looks to be the primary plan is to move Brad Miller to second base from first, where last season he was shifted from shortstop.
How Miller, who had some time at second with Seattle from 2013-15, handles such a move will be interesting. Though not happy about last year's change, he went on to hit 30 home runs and earned a hefty raise to a $3.575 million salary.
By going that way, the team can find a first baseman, or two, in a market that is still flush and likely to yield some bargain opportunities.
Given the need to replace Forsythe's right-handed bat, the Rays are considering a large group, with Mark Reynolds (who can also play elsewhere) and Chris Carter (who can't) seemingly most appealing; Mike Napoli probably out of their contract range; a trade for Anaheim's C.J. Cron an interesting thought; and Billy Butler a cheap date (since Oakland pays all but the minimum) but not a good fit.
Here's another possibility: They could actually go get two first-base types, one that hits from each side, creating platoon advantages, a more potent bench and — depending on who — potentially a better glove. Among lefties, think Brandon Moss, the return of Logan Morrison (recovering from wrist surgery) or maybe Pedro Alvarez.
Adding two bats requires some roster reshuffling. For example, if they want to have both Beckham and Franklin on the bench, it would come at the expense of a true extra outfielder (Mallex Smith?) and require Beckham to learn to play the outfield in the spring. If he can, they could have a bench of Beckham, Franklin, the other catcher and the extra first baseman, with four outfielders already on the roster in Corey Dickerson, Kevin Kiermaier, Colby Rasmus and Steven Souza Jr.
Or, the right-handed bat they add could be an outfielder, such as Franklin Gutierrez, and Beckham could be used occasionally at first. And, the money matters as they are also expected to sign another reliever.
One thing for sure, the Rays will consider all options.
MORE ROSTER: With Rasmus, who agreed to terms Jan. 9, finally officially signing this week, most likely options to open a 40-man roster spot are trading RHP Erasmo Ramirez, ditching either reliever RHP Eddie Gamboa or Ryan Garton, or dropping OF Jason Coats.
RAYS RUMBLINGS: Interesting that St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, while in New York on other city business, went directly to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred with his push to keep the Rays with a new stadium at the Trop site. … A new scoreboard, featuring HD video, is being installed at Charlotte Sports Park in time for the spring opener, along with more shade on the boardwalk. … The Rays will have the third largest bonus pool for the upcoming draft at $11,930,300, per figures obtained by Baseball America, including $5.86 million for the No. 4 overall pick. … Team officials had to know that moving the Fan Fest due to scheduling issues to what for most players is their last free weekend before spring training was going to lead to some absences. … Pete Rose headlines the usual big names at the annual Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame/Chris Archer charity dinner Feb. 18 at the Trop; $125 tickets are available via tedwilliamsmuseum.com or (727) 534-5343. … Among logistical issues for Forsythe after the unexpected trade is selling the $650,000 house he bought last spring in St. Petersburg. … Tropicana Field will be the 13th stadium where smokeless tobacco is not allowed to be used, a ban supported by the Rays and MLB and made official recently by the St. Petersburg City Council vote. … With the 2019 All-Star Game awarded to Cleveland, that will make 22 sites that have hosted since the Rays began play in 1998, including all three other 1990s-era expansion teams. … Rays prospects sent to MLB's rookie career development program near Washington, D.C., were RHPs Jacob Faria and Ryne Stanek and INFs Willy Adames and Robertson. … RHP Alex Cobb and his buddy Oscar, whom he found on the streets of Port Charlotte in spring 2015, are leading an mlb.com vote for the "very best baseball dog," ahead of ex-Rays mate David Price and Astro. … Rather than gaining weight or working on a new pitch as in past offseasons, RHP Jake Odorizzi had a different goal for this winter: "I tried improving on being a dad; there was really no big thing baseball related." … Bill Geivett, a front office exec with the Devil Rays and five other teams, has written a book about how to get inside, called Do You Want to Work in Baseball?
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.