This weekend, Joe Maddon essentially benched Pat Burrell, saying Willy Aybar will be the DH versus lefties and against some righties. That leaves the Rays without a left-handed bat on the bench (the backup catcher is usually unavailable to pinch-hit in case the starter gets injured).
Buster Olney recognized this and believes the Rays will look to trade for a left-handed bat…
They could use a right-handed reliever and a left-handed DH-type. The left-handed hitter might well come from outside the organization, and undoubtedly, there will be an opportunity that will present itself during the year; as one GM mentioned Friday, Berkman would be an exceptional fit as a DH if the Astros ever decided to move him and the money could be worked out.
Certainly Berkman would be a welcome addition to the Rays lineup. But would the Rays be willing to pay the price? Even if the Astros picked up most of his remaining 2010 salary ($14.5 million), there is still the $2 million buyout on his 2011 option of $15 million. That might be more than the Rays want to pay for a player that would essentially be a part-time DH.
And will the Rays part with a prospect and add to the payroll when they have left-handed options in the minor leagues?
Hank Blalock seems like an ideal candidate. He has played third base and is hitting a solid .375/.440/.523 for Durham. In addition, there is the impending return of Matt Joyce who could be available as early as June. And there is Cuban defector Leslie Anderson, who will begin play with Charlotte today and could be available as a September call-up.
If the Rays call-up Blalock or Joyce, the Rays could finally cut Burrell loose. Or they could keep him and send Sean Rodriguez to the minors for regular playing time.
No matter which path the Rays choose, we do know that the Rays will have to make a move. Having a bench of nothing but right-handed bats, takes away one of the Rays better traits, flexibility.