Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Rays

With Matt Duffy gone, who’s on third is now on list of Rays questions

Rays Tales: Yandy Diaz seems first in line, though Daniel Robertson, Mike Brosseau and Joey Wendle are options. Also, rumblings.
After fracturing his foot on a foul ball in July, Yandy Diaz returned to the active roster as the designated hitter for the final game of the regular season. He was at first base for the wild card game and started at third base in Game 2 of the ALDS in Houston. [DIRK SHADD  |  Times]
After fracturing his foot on a foul ball in July, Yandy Diaz returned to the active roster as the designated hitter for the final game of the regular season. He was at first base for the wild card game and started at third base in Game 2 of the ALDS in Houston. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
Published Nov. 23, 2019
Updated Nov. 25, 2019

(This story was updated Nov. 24 with news of Travis d’Arnaud signing with Braves)

ST. PETERSBURG — As good as the Rays feel about keeping the bulk of their 96-win team intact, and with most of the offseason work still ahead of them, they do have some holes to fill.

And, for the impatient among us, with only 81 days until the first spring workout.

Catcher is still the most pressing, as the Rays remain in talks to bring back free agent Travis d’Arnaud. (D’Arnaud on Nov. 24 signed a $16 million, two-year deal with the Braves.)

How his price is impacted by the hefty $73 million, four-year deal the top catcher on the market, Yasmani Grandal, got from the White Sox could be interesting. Also, how the market shifts as the Brewers, having lost Grandal, are now looking for a starter, as apparently are the Reds, Angels and Blue Jays, and there aren’t many other free agent options. Related, the Sox could now make 2019 starter James McCann available in trade.

Getting clarity, if not resolution, by the Dec. 2 deadline to tender contracts would help, as the Rays decide what to do with veteran Mike Zunino, whose down year makes his projected $4.9 million arbitration number tough, and worth exploring alternatives. They also have Michael Perez as an option.

There’s more the Rays could use, such as a right-handed hitting outfielder, as Avisail Garcia is also a free agent, and a veteran reliever. But they feel pretty good about third base, evidenced by last week’s decision to let Matt Duffy go.

Yandy Diaz seems to be first for time at third, though the Rays said the decision to DFA Duffy was also made based on the depth of having Mike Brosseau and Daniel Robertson, plus lefty swinger Joey Wendle. (Also worth noting, lefty slugger Nate Lowe got a look at third last year.)

“We’ll let things play out this winter and see where we’re at,” GM Erik Neander said. “Yandy, we expect to be fully healthy and feel good about him over at third if that’s the way it goes. Joey is somebody we can kick around. Looking at our personnel in total, Robby and Bross, those guys will be in the mix to get some of that opportunity. We like some … of the different things we can do there to match up.”

Diaz, before a July 22 foot injury that sidelined him until the final day of the season, hit .270 with 14 homers, 38 RBIs and an .823 OPS in 78 games, making 45 starts at third. He can also play first and DH.

Duffy, who didn’t return messages, is sure to get a job somewhere, especially if he can show teams he is healthy going into the season.

A different kind of video review

Even before the details of the Astros’ sign-stealing plans became public, there has been increased awareness, suspicion and paranoia around the game, and thus room for miscommunication. That’s what was said to be the reason Rays scout Jason Grey was removed, briefly, from Yankee Stadium while working an ALDS game vs. Minnesota. Grey was shooting camcorder video of the pitchers, a common duty for scouts sitting behind home plate, including Yankees scouts working games at the Trop. But a Yankee Stadium security guard saw Grey taping and enforced the no recording device rule that covers fans, The Athletic first reported. A call to the Yankees baseball operations department got Grey back in an inning or two later, and both sides now consider it a misunderstanding, and one that teams want to make sure there are uniform rules on.

Rays rumblings

Top prospect Wander Franco played only a week in the Dominican league, hitting .192 for the Gigantes, before the Rays decided a break would be better for the 18-year-old coming off his first full pro season. … With Jose De Leon still having to establish himself as a big-league pitcher, the minor-leaguer coming from the Reds likely won’t be a top prospect, and not named until the spring. … The Orlando group clearly wants its own team, pitchman Pat Williams confirming to WDAE 95.3 FM there is no interest in sharing Rays games with St. Pete. … The Princeton, W. Va., Rays, along with most of rookie-level Appalachian League, are among 42 minor-league teams MLB wants to drop as part of negotiations on a new contract. Florida State League teams in Daytona (Reds) and Kissimmee (Braves) are also on the list. … Bench coach Matt Quatraro remains in the mix for the manager’s job in Pittsburgh, where Ben Cherington just took over as GM. … Just me, or did the Rays appear to be saying something in their statement about Orlando’s interest in getting a team, noting they are “proud of our strong fan support” there and “pleased to see their enthusiasm” about MLB. … Hirings for minor-league coordinator positions are almost done. … Latest award for the Rays is milb.com’s Farm System of the Year, based on quality of prospects, winning affiliates and contributions to the big-league club. … Hall of Famer Wade Boggs told some funny stories at the Grassroots Baseball book signing in Tampa last week, including being recruited at Plant High by then Pittsburgh football coach Johnny Majors to play quarterback. … Though the Rays added five prospects to their 40-man roster and traded a sixth, Cristopher Sanchez, to the Phillies, Baseball America has outfielder Moises Gomez among the first 15 players who could be taken in the Rule 5 draft.

Contact Marc Topkin at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow, shown at last year's event with since traded Ryne Stanek, likes the fun and games at Fan Fest.
    Registering on the MLB Ballpark app is necessary for all attendees 18 and older; team says no paper tickets can be used.
  2. For a while, Nick Anderson was nearly unhittable after the Rays acquired him from the Marlins in July. He ended up with 41 strikeouts in 21.1 innings for the Rays in 2019. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
    No one on Tampa Bay’s roster has more than 20 career saves to his name. But the Rays have at least four relievers who could be in line to protect the majority of ninth-inning leads.
  3. The Seattle Mariners' Chris Prieto now is part of the Tampa Bay Rays' staff. [LESLIE PLAZA JOHNSON  |  ZUMAPRESS.com]
    The extensive makeover includes six new hires (including a female athletic trainer) and 16 internal changes in assignment.
  4. Longtime Tampa-based player agent B.B. Abbott plans next month to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money and awareness for pediatric cancer. Here he walks around his South Tampa neighborhood at night with an altitude mask. [B.B. ABBOTT  |  Special to the Times]
    B.B. Abbott will climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer groups.
  5. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash and new Japanese slugger Yoshi Tsutsugo, shown during December press conference, will have a lot to talk about during spring training. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
    Rays Tales | Learning where Yoshi Tsutsugo and other newcomers best fit will be a priority in Port Charlotte.
  6. With pitching coach Kyle Snyder keeping a close eye on him at Tropicana Field on Friday, Rays prospect Brent Honeywell continues his recovery from Tommy John surgery in 2018 and a fractured arm in 2019. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    John Romano | Once Tampa Bay’s top pitching prospect, Brent Honeywell has had elbow surgeries in successive seasons. Healthy again, he hopes to be in the majors this summer.
  7. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow prepares to warm up on the field during a player workout at Tropicana Field on Friday. [DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Discipline for sign-stealing scheme was lax, Rays pitchers say, as participating hitters should have been disciplined as well.
  8. Members of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, who inspired the movie "A League of Their Own," will be honored at the Feb. 1 Ted Williams dinner at Tropicana Field. [GLOBE PHOTOS  |  ZUMAPRESS.com]
    Players from the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, like Englewood’s Sue Parsons Zipay, will be honored at Ted Williams Museum event at the Trop.
  9. Diego Castillo (63) kicks a ball around during spring training at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte last February. [TAILYR IRVINE  | TIMES  ]
    Games will be available on TV and streamed; 21 of the exhibitions will be carried on radio.
  10. Derek Jeter speaks during the Baseball Hall of Fame news conference on Wednesday Jan. 22, 2020, a day after joining Larry Walker as members of the 2020 Hall of Fame class. [BEBETO MATTHEWS  |  AP]
    The New York Yankees great and the Baseball Hall of Fame say they are both OK not knowing who the lone voter is that kept Jeter from being a unanimous selection.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement