Yesterday we linked to a story by Jon Heyman of SI.com that said the Rays were looking for a closer, but do not want to add payroll. Something he called a “tough task.”
Now Jayson Stark of ESPN.com is spinning a different tune. One that makes a heck of a lot more sense. Stark says the Rays are not looking for a closer.
Contrary to what we (and others) have been reporting, we’re now hearing that the Rays aren’t necessarily shopping for bullpen help. Clubs that have talked to them say they’re shopping for “upgrades.” And those upgrades aren’t exclusively bullpen upgrades or even big-league upgrades. They’d also prefer long-term upgrades over short-term upgrades. So what they’re looking for in the bullpen, in other words, is the next J.P. Howell, not the next Eric Gagne. And they’ve been asking about the potential availability of young corner outfielders, as opposed to the Jermaine Dyes of the world, an indication they clearly think they can live, for now, with the .805 OPS and excellent defense they’ve been getting from their Gabe Gross/Gabe Kapler/Ben Zobrist rotation in right.
The first part does not surprise us at all. The Rays have always been about long-term value as opposed to short-term fixes.
The second part is a little more telling. With the recent addition of Matt Joyce as the future right fielder, Stark’s report suggests that the Rays are now looking for somebody to play left field for the next 5-6 years. If true, it suggests that the Rays are looking to a future without Carl Crawford, who is due $10 million if the Rays pick up his option.
It also suggests that the Rays are not completely enamored with some of the in-house options they have in the minors to replace Crawford (Fernando Perez, Justin Ruggiano) and maybe this means that Desmond Jennings is not as close to the majors as some might want to believe.
Focusing on baseball’s many mysteries [ESPN]