The Rays announced today (via press release) that they have re-signed Gabe Kapler to a one-year deal. The deal is a major league contract for $1.05 million. He made $1.0 million last season.

Kapler, who turned 34 in August, hit .239-8-32 with a 98 OPS+ and .334 wOBA as the Rays primary right fielder against left-handed pitchers.

With Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce in the mix to play right field, this move is a bit surprising. Does this mean the Rays are leaning towards using Zobrist as the most-days second baseman and a Joyce-Kapler platoon in right? Or is this just insurance in case either Joyce or Sean Rodriguez are not ready to be major leaguers? If the Rays are still leaning towards Zorilla and Joyce in right field, Kapler would be relegated to 5th outfielder. It is hard to imagine that Kapler would have signed so quickly without some assurance that he will compete for regular playing time.

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17 Comments

  1. KillaTapes says:

    I think he's a good guy to have around to fill in against lefties, but what does this mean for the outfield situation? I'm assuming Joyce is going to be in there, at least in a platoon situation, so does Fernando have a place on the bench, or does he spend his time in AAA? His speed coming off the bench would be a big boost.

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  2. Don says:

    Please..not the same dopes from last year...I can name 5 better RFs on the team than him...where/when is he going to play? $1M for a bench warmer...
    The young guys need to play now...you know Maddon will let him play...
    I hate to think about the same old bums next year....

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  3. Justin H says:

    I like the move, he's cheap a solid hitter against lefties. Although I think I'd rather have Perez on the team, Kapler is worth $1.05 million.

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  4. Dirtbag Fan says:

    I don't love it...

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  5. Charles says:

    I feel like resigning a guy specifically strong against lefties points to a Kapler/Joyce platoon. I like the move, lets Joyce grow into the everyday rightfielder role he will hopefully show enough to be penciled in for. I also think this points to Zorilla at second.

    The interesting question is will Aki be allowed to walk or will his option be picked up and traded? The latter is risky if you can't find a trade partner, but I think his low (for other teams) cost, positional flexibility, and nice OBP could bring a decent return.

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  6. stunna says:

    Meh...

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  7. Gus says:

    No lucky "18" this time in this contract number? It worked so well in the 2009 contract . . .

    The viens in his arms are disconcerting; his weird retirement and comeback make me suspicious of his whole deal. He just doesn't seem like a good clubhouse guy. For my veteran back-up, I'd like a guy who can still play and mentor the young cats. A stiff like Kapler seems to fail on both counts.

    Kind of disappointed to see Kapler re-signed before Crawford. Does that say anything?

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    • Beth says:

      I can't say I'm thrilled with this signing -- would rather see us succeed or fail with some of the younger players.

      But I'm not sure why you say Kapler's not a good clubhouse guy - on what do you base this? If you recall, a while ago the Professor linked to a radio interview (a looong interview) with Kapler and Fernando Perez. In that interview he sounded very thoughtful, ready to share his years of experience, and he certainly had very good rapport with Perez. Does a "good clubhouse guy" really need to be a Jonny Gomes kind of personality?

      And some women find vein-y arms very sexy. Certainly more appealing than all those damned tattoos.

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      • Gus says:

        Beth: When I see veins in arms, I think PEDs, mostly because of Canseco and Giambi. When I think of PEDs, I think of guys who fall off a cliff the minute they sign their last contract. But I gather there are upsides to arms that belong in Muscle & Fitness amongst the female set. (I remember how women loved Canseco and his ridiculously tight uniform at the Trop in 1999).

        While you are right that Kapler has never been cited in the local press directly, I conclude that he isn't loved by the number of stories about how much Cliff Floyd, Hinske and Gomes were missed this season. Given how much of the roster was the same, and especially how much each guy struggled early, you have to conclude that new guys Kapler and Burrell and their fat contracts (compared to all real offensive contributors except CC and Pena), did not help the team chemistry this year. But I don't know; he could be well-loved and sponsoring guys at the Mons for all I know (but if that is the case, that hasn't made the press). But my guess is that Kapler is an older quiet guy worried about keeping his dream of playing in MLB going, and not too worried about mentoring the young studs.

        He's totally fungible and I'd rather give the roster spot to a young player or take a run at Baldelli with the million dollars.

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      • KillaTapes says:

        I agree- Not on the "sexy" part, but on the "good clubhouse guy" part. I've always thought he was a good guy to have around for that reason. I know he did a lot of good for the community while he was with Boston and last year with us, and he seems to have his head on his shoulders.

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  8. Kevin says:

    Matt Joyce hit for a 116 OPS+ in 2008 as a 23-year old. After an entire season at Durham, if he is deemed "not yet ready" then maybe there's a problem with the way our team evaluates players. Sean Rodriguez would be more understandable, but he'll be 25 and I'm not sure how much developing he has left to do.

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    • Don says:

      Forget about 23-25 yos...we are going to be playing a 35 yo
      has been/never been....whatever..
      Ask the Yankees/Red Sox if they would like to have Kapler...for $1m
      See what they tell you...something like.... "we can't use him" or "not good enough to make our team".....
      Yet we are suppose to compete with those teams with the left overs...

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  9. Sam A says:

    I would have liked to see the team move in a different direction. Kapler isn't getting any younger and his production wasn't anything special. I don't hate the move, but I don't see what it accomplishes either.

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  10. leningan says:

    have to believe the Rays have kept open the option of cutting Kapler loose, assuming Rodriguez and/or Joyce (and to some extent Perez) are ready to contribute immediately... have any of the contract's details come out? As in, what is guaranteed? or, perhaps gabe could be kept around to help with Maddon's managing faults... didn't Kapler manage a couple years ago?

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    • Unfortunately, all MLB contracts are guaranteed. That's why I assumed if Kapler was back he would be back on a minor league deal (not guaranteed) which would give the team an out and Kapler the option to opt out if he doesn't make the team.

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  11. Sweez says:

    I simply can't get the image of Kapler getting gassed by Swisher out of my head....Ugh.

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    • Beth says:

      I completely agree. But if you recall, he had a sense of humor about it. He said afterwards something like: "Well, at least now, when an interviewer asks me to name the most embarrassing moment in my career, I will know how to respond."

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