On the fourth day of the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings, Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash held his media session.
Cash spoke on a number of topics, including the pending deal between the Rays and catcher Wilson Ramos, what he’d like to see in the outfield bat the team is seeking, the potential trade of a starter, the state of the bullpen, and who impressed him during his visit to the Arizona Fall League.
You can see the video of the media session, as well as read a summary of his thoughts, below.
On the pending acquisition of Wilson Ramos
Noting that he had to be vague and speak in hypotheticals since the deal is not yet official, Cash called Ramos an “exciting player” with a solid “offensive profile.”
He’s an exciting player. Obviously nothing has been formally announced and we are going to stay pretty vague about that, it’s kind of our policy. As we said throughout the entire offseason, we’ve kind of been in the market looking for catching. And he’s a guy among many that we’ve discussed and we like a lot of things that he’s capable of doing.
Cash elaborated on some of the things he liked about Ramos:
The fact that he’s gone out, understanding that he had an injury, but before, prior to that, he had gone out and caught over 100 games, I think, a couple years, back-to-back. To find those guys that are capable, and then showing a track record of being able to do that, you put yourself in a special category, because this game is continuing to evolve and change. And you just don’t see that type of catcher — or that many of them — that can go out and contribute that much.
On the outfield bat the Rays are seeking
Cash likes the flexibility offered by Corey Dickerson and Steven Souza Jr., however, there’s something to be said about a speedy, gritty player like The Outlaw:
Personally, I like the speed factor, and a guy that is capable of playing some center field. I mean, we all saw what took place when KK got hurt. He’s a special player. We’re not going to go find Kevin Kiermaier-type defense to fill in, if there’s an off-day here or there or on injury. But to have a guy to come in to kind of hold center field down would be great.
On the potential trade of a starter
As a manager, you don’t want to trade any of them, because what we’ve seen the last two years, you can never have enough starting pitching, and we do have a talented group. …Leading up to the Winter Meetings, during the Winter Meetings, everybody wants to talk about our starting pitching, because it’s so valuable and it’s so tough to find. It’s a luxury for us to be able to have that, but I don’t want to see any of them go.
On the state of the bullpen
Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times), who attended the media session, concisely summed up Cash’s thoughts on the state of the bullpen, saying the team expects Alex Colome to be as dominant, are looking forward to having a healthy Brad Boxberger for the full season, are talking about finding more ground ball (as opposed to their usual fly ball) pitchers, and adding some velocity.
There’s going to be a lot of opportunity in the bullpen.
On who impressed him during his visit to the Arizona Fall League
(Brent) Honeywell, I think he threw five innings, one hit, five punchouts. He was outstanding. Justin Williams was really swinging the bat well, Nick Ciuffo. Probably the guy that really stuck out was Diego Castillo. You come in knowing those names, had not heard a ton about Diego, and he comes out of the bullpen, he’s throwing 98 mph and no one is touching him.
On the trade of Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox
Cash joked when asked about his reaction to Boston’s acquisition of Chris Sale on Tuesday, saying Tampa Bay’s marketing department “can now figure out when to do throwback jersey day.”
His comments referenced the meltdown Sale had last season when he did not want to wear the White Sox throwback uniforms.
On a more serious note, Cash called the potential of facing Sale “a challenge,” citing the sheer number of times the Rays will face the Red Sox over the course of a season:
You know, I think teams that are in (the American League East) would say that’s the best division in baseball and most competitive. There’s a lot of back and forth, and (Sale’s) going to add to that. Boston was a very, very talented team before that acquisition. I think it’s more business as usual.
— As the Rays seek an outfielder, Topkin reported that Travis Jankowski of the Padres has been discussed. The Rangers are also said to be interested in Jankowski.
Jankowski graded as an outstanding defender in 2016, posting an excellent 12.8 UZR and 8 Defensive Runs Saved, and accumulating 2.1 fWAR even while slashing just .245 BA/.332 OBP/.313 SLG/.645 OPS.
— Tampa Bay and Washington have been in contact about a possible trade of Alex Colome.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 7, 2016
Per Topkin, the Rays are in no rush to trade El Caballo.
I know there’s been some trade chatter about Colome, but I get a strong sense #Rays are in no hurry to move him. Would take quite a lot.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) December 7, 2016
Even if the Rays are serious about dealing the reliever, the asking price for Colome figures to be exceptionally high thanks to his breakout season as the Rays’ closer, when he posted a 1.91 ERA/11.3 K9/2.4 BB9/47.1% ground-ball rate, with 37 saves in 56-2/3 innings. Beyond the dominant numbers, Colome has yet to reach arbitration and is under team control for another four years before he’s eligible for free agency.