Up until now, most of us had been assuming that the Rays were looking for a DH-type that might also be able to play in left field until Wil Myers is ready for promotion in (hopefully) May or June. But Jayson Stark puts a little twist on that scenario (via Twitter)…
“I hear Rays still looking around for a CF but not much out there. I wonder if they could be a landing spot for Michael Bourn.
Let’s ignore the Michael Born thought, which seems like a stretch at best. Not only would he be expensive, but even if he were willing to take a 1-year flyer and try free agency again next year, the Rays would still have to give up their first round draft pick to sign him. And the Rays are not a team that is going to give up a first round pick for a 1-year rental.
But what is interesting is that Stark specifically mentioned center field. He didn’t say “outfielder” or “left fielder.” And if the Rays are actively looking for a center fielder it could mean one of two things:
1) The Rays don’t think Jennings will be a very good everyday center fielder – Certainly keeping Jennings in left field is an option. But with Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer, as well as Wil Myers in the minors, on the surface it makes more sense to move Jennings. In addition, left fielders are just easier to find than center fielders. The problem with this scenario is that if the Rays don’t want Jennings to play center, then the Wil Myers trade makes less sense. Of course, maybe the Rays view Myers long-term as a right fielder (certainly possible).
2) Wil Myers may not be as close to the majors as we would all like to believe – Up until now, most of us were assuming (hoping?) that Myers would be promoted sometime in May or June. But if the Rays are considering the possibility of leaving Jennings in left, that may mean the Rays don’t see Myers being ready before the all-star break or even longer.
One other possibility is that the Rays are just looking for another Sam Fuld-type fourth outfielder, but that they prefer he be an athletic, speedy center fielder. But that seems unlikely considering that the Rays already have a bunch of fourth-outfielders, and Stark is speculating about Bourn.
Of course, none of this may matter if the Rays can’t find the center fielder they are apparently looking for. But it is one more wrinkle to keep an eye on in Spring Training at a position that we already assumed was set.