Marc Topkin is reporting that the Rays have signed Gabe Kapler to a one-year, $1 million deal. The same Gabe Kapler who is the only player in major league history to tear his Achilles Heal while running the bases after a teammate’s home run.
Right field is now going to be All Gabe, All the Time. Kapler, who had a 1.001 OPS against lefties in 2008 (87 PA), will likely join Gabe Gross to form the all-Gabe right field platoon. This signing could also be a sign of a new religious diversity initiative by the Rays as Kapler, who is Jewish, will be partnering with Gross, who is a devout Christian.
Last season, Rays right fielders posted a combined .809 OPS, which is not terrible, but as a run-producing position, that only ranked 10th in the American League. The addition of Kapler should help push the Rays up closer to league average.
With the Gabes in right field, both Fernando Perez and Matt Joyce will now likely begin the season in triple-A, with the final three bench spots going to Shawn Riggans, Willy Aybar and Ben Zobrist.
The Rays now project to have 16 players with a salary of at least $1 million in 2009.
No word yet on who is being dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for Kapler. The leading candidate is JK Ryu.