USATSI_7392863_154511044_lowresAndrew Friedman shed a little light on one of the Rays’ biggest question marks this off-season when he explained at the general managers meetings that the Rays may use four current players as regular designated hitters next season (via TBO.com)…

“Executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said at last week’s general managers meetings that his team could employ a four-man rotation through the DH spot in 2014 with Matt Joyce and David DeJesus as the left-handed half of that quartet and Wil Myers and Desmond Jennings swinging from the right side.”

However, that is not quite the entire picture and based on those names, the Rays will actually need a fifth DH.

What Friedman is saying here is that the Rays have four outfielders that can play most-days and the DH spot will, in essence, become a fourth “outfield” position. With four outfielders, on most days, three will be in the outfield and the fourth will play DH.

However, things get more complicated with Matt Joyce in the mix since he doesn’t match up as well with left-handed pitchers. Ultimately, the Rays are going to need a fifth DH, as crazy as that sounds.

But who would be the fifth DH?

The simple answer is, everybody else, especially the other right-handed hitters.

Depending on the match-ups and how players are feeling, it could be Evan Longoria on some days. He did DH 14 times in 2013. Or maybe it will be Sean Rodriguez.

But the important point is that if the Rays don’t find a big bat to DH (and that is very unlikely), the DH in 2014 will essentially be the backup outfielder, unless there is a lefty on the mound. In that case, all bets are off.

Maybe they can just play Rock-Paper-Scissors before the game.

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12 Comments

  1. OriginalTom says:

    Cork,
    What about Guyer? I know he was hurt in 2012 but he played well in 2013 in Triple A and is out of options.

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      I think they like Guyer as a potential backup outfielder, but I am not sure how he would fit. It may depend on how the rest of the bench shakes out. With four outfielders in the lineup most days, they will almost certainly carry a fifth outfielder. Right now, that is probably Fuld. Would they carry a sixth outfielder? Possibly. If they do, it could be Guyer.

      With four bench spots, one will likely go to Fuld. One will go to the second catcher. A third will likely go to Rodriguez. The question is what do they do with that final spot.

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  2. Ken says:

    How about Delmon Young? I thought the Rays were interested in bringing him back if the price was right.

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      Young is definitely still a possibility, but he might be a backup plan at this point. I'm just not sure they want a guy whose only role is a part-time DH. Remember, the Rays will likely have five outfielders on the roster (Myers, Dez, DeJesus, Joyce, Fuld). So if they sign Young, it is unlikely that he would even be able to offer himself as a backup outfielder.

      As I mentioned in the other comment, three of the bench spots are likely to be Mr. 2nd Catcher, Rodriguez, and Fuld. While Hot Rod offers the ability to play both infield and outfield, I think they would like at least one more backup infielder, especially one that hits left-handed.

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  3. Alex says:

    Great another year of 1 month Joyce on the roster

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  4. deezy333 says:

    Here is my guess...

    With 2 of the 4 OF/DH group having extreme platoon splits (Joyce, DeJesus), Fuld is gone. He is eligible for arbitration and while his defense and base running have been excellent, he just doesn't fit the team as well.

    Enter Brandon Guyer. Going into 2014, Guyer will be out of options and is fully capable of replacing Fuld and better complimenting the other outfielders. Guyer plays a decent centerfield, has a mixture of speed and power, and here is the kicker, absolutely destroys left handed pitching.

    While many will point to the need for Joyce to platoon, DeJesus is in the same boat. While he used to handle both hands equally as well, the past few years he has been downright terrible against LHP.

    If I had to guess, I would say Guyer takes over for Fuld as the primary back up outfielder and platoons in LF with Joyce/DeJesus. However that only covers one issue. In addition to Guyer, the Rays need a right handed bat to platoon at DH. While many have mentioned a reunion with Delmon Young, there is another Young that makes more sense.

    Enter Michael Young. RJ Anderson over at the Process Report originally brought up this idea. Basically Young could be the right handed half of a DH platoon as well as back up 3B, 1B, and 2B. With Young unlikely to be an everyday player anymore, the Rays could potentially get him for a couple million and allow him to succeed in a more limited capacity.

    So in this scenerio, I could see the Rays carrying Guyer, Young, Rodriguez, and a second catcher (Hopefully Hannigan) on the bench. Including the DH'ing outfielder, this gives the Rays 2 extra outfielders, 1 middle infielder, one corner infielder and a back up catcher. All of the pieces have a role.

    Lastly, with Friedman saying the handedness of a first baseman could play a large role in their offseason strategy, im not surprised that they have been in talks with Corey Hart. Such a move would keep the Rays from having to platoon yet another position. According to Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, he predicted today the Rays would sign Hart for 1 yr 6 mil.

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    • OriginalTom says:

      Solid analysis. My only disagreement is I think Michael Young is washed up. He has had negative WAR the past 2 seasons. I would rather see Delmon or SROD start against lefties.

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  5. deezy333 says:

    As an everyday player, guys like Young have their weaknesses exposed easier. Thus their overall WAR standing doesn't look as stellar. However, if you can use them in certain situations for them to succeed, which Maddon loves to do, their WAR/games played shoots up. Makes them look like a better value and even a better player. If Young played against all LHP and sparingly at 1B/3B/2B backing up the other starters, he could have a very productive role. I also believe that contact hitters make the best back ups, so this suits him well.

    I don't have a problem with Delmon or Srod, but I don't think it gives us the best spectrum of value. Delmon, at this stage in his career, should not see the field at all. That means carrying a no-glove bat on the bench. That can constrict your versatility. I also believe Srod would be better suited as a super-utility player versus a strict platoon player.

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  6. Geoff Peterson says:

    If Joyce were smart he would play 1B in one of the winter leagues and come to Spring training with a second position on his resume.

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