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Steven Souza Jr. interested in rejoining Rays

Talented and entertaining outfielder is a free agent after being non-tendered by D-backs, and Rays do need some help.
Steven Souza Jr. hit 30 home runs for the Rays in the 2017 season while improving his defense and baserunning, but hit only .239. [Tampa Bay Times]
Steven Souza Jr. hit 30 home runs for the Rays in the 2017 season while improving his defense and baserunning, but hit only .239. [Tampa Bay Times]
Published Dec. 9, 2019

SAN DIEGO — Even before swapping Tommy Pham for Hunter Renfroe Friday, the Rays looked be in need of a right-handed hitter to play outfield and provide some power, and have had interest in bringing back Avisail Garcia, who filled that role last year and is now a free agent.

But if that doesn’t work out, there’s another familiar face who would like to rejoin them —- Steven Souza Jr.

“Yeah I’d be interested,’’ Souza said via text. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for the front office, Cash and those players over there.”

Souza was non-tendered by Arizona after missing the entire 2019 season recovering from left knee surgery, and that after a rough 2018 marred by injury (shoulder, pec) that limited him to 72 games and inconsistent play.

Obviously more was expected when the Rays traded him to the D-backs in spring 2018 for four prospects (Anthony Banda, Sam McWilliams, Colin Poche, Nick Solak, coming off his 2017 Rays team MVP season (30 homers, .810 OPS).

Souza, who has been texting with Cash and other Rays folks, said he is ready to go after what a serious injury, tearing four ligaments in his left knee on a freak play late in spring training. After making $3.55 million and $4.125 million the past two seasons, the opportunity would presumably be more important than the pay.

“I am absolutely 100 percent and as healthy as ever,’’ Souza said. “Finished with rehab, cleared to play baseball and ready to go. I have no doubt my knee is not going to be an issue for the 2020 season.’’

With the Rays he was known for his power and aggressive nature, which also led to some entertaining moments on the field.

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