The Tampa Bay Rays Rays promoted Matt Quatraro to bench coach following the loss of former bench coach Charlie Montoyo. Quatraro had been the Rays’ third-base coach on manager Kevin Cash’s staff.
According to the team’s press release:
Quatraro, 44, becomes the 10th bench coach in club history, following Frank Howard (1998-99), Bill Russell (2000), Hal McRae (’01), Billy Hatcher (’01-02), John McLaren (’03-05), Bill Evers (’06-07), Dave Martinez (’08-14), Tom Foley (’15-17) and Charlie Montoyo (’18).
Montoyo was recently named manager for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The 2019 season will be Quatraro’s 24th in professional baseball and 16th in a coaching capacity. Last season, Quatraro returned to the Rays’ organization after spending the previous four seasons (2014-17) as an assistant hitting coach for the Indians.
Prior to joining Cleveland, Quatraro was Tampa Bay’s Minor League hitting coordinator from 2010-13. He also spent four seasons as a Minor League manager in the Rays’ organization, going 196-228 (.462) with Class A Bowling Green (’09), Class A Advanced Columbus (’08) and Class A Short-Season Hudson Valley (’06-07).
Quatraro’s coaching career began midway through the 2004 season, as a catching instructor and coach with Hudson Valley.
An eighth-round selection by the Rays in the 1996 Draft, Quatraro played seven seasons in the system as a catcher, first baseman and outfielder, reaching Triple-A Durham in 2002. He became the first player in organization history to hit for the cycle on July 6, 1997, against Class A Hickory.
Over 415 career Minor League games, Quatraro hit .286/.343/.416 (415-for-1,451) with 23 home runs and 202 RBIs.
The Rays also made a handful of roster moves, claiming right-hander Oliver Drake off waivers from Minnesota, and outrighting catchers Jesus Sucre and Adam Moore, as well as hurlers Andrew Kittredge and Vidal Nuno off the 40-man roster. Right-handers Jose De Leon, Wilmer Font, and Jose Mujica, as well as infielder Daniel Robertson, have all been reinstated from the 60-day DL. The Rays’ 40-man now stands at 37 players.
Drake, 31, hasn’t had much success in his brief big league career, however, there are reasons to believe he could succeed in the near future. The right-hander has been rather unlucky over the past couple of seasons, having been staked to a .353 BABIP, albeit with an exceptional 47% swinging strike percentage. Drake worked to a 2.21 ERA with an impressive 3.3 K/BB ratio and a 50% ground-ball rate across 20-1/3 innings with the Twins — the only team with which he found real success.
Drake also saw MLB action with four other teams in 2018 (Blue Jays, Angels, Indians, Brewers), and he’s seen time with six Major League clubs over the past two seasons. Drake is out of minor league options, so he’ll need to break camp with Tampa Bay (or another club) next spring or else be exposed to waivers yet again.
Sucre, 30, appeared in 73 games with the Rays this past season, although he hit just .209 BA/.247 OBP/.253 SLG/.500 OPS across 198 plate appearances. Having accrued more than three years of Major League service time, Sucre has the right to reject an outright assignment in favor of free agency.
Moore, 34, went 4-18 in eight games with Tampa Bay. He’s seen big league action in parts of nine seasons, slashing a lite .199 BA/.239 OBP/.312 SLG/.551 OPS in 312 plate appearances.
Kittredge, 28, came to the Rays in November of 2016 in the deal that sent Richie Shaffer and Taylor Motter to the Seattle Mariners. With Tampa Bay, the right-hander suffered mightily, getting torched for 33 earned runs across 38-1/3 innings.
Nuno, 31, was quite effective in his brief time with the Rays, allowing just six earned runs in 33 innings (across 17 appearances) while performing toa 1.64 ERA.
The loss of Sucre signals that the Rays could be in the market for a right-handed hitting catcher, with Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) suggesting that the team could pursue Wilson Ramos or Robinson Chirinos — both of whom are familiar to the Rays. The Rangers surprisingly cut ties with Chirinos, 34, on Friday. He was a quality offensive backstop as a Ranger, posting a .768 OPS in 1,546 plate appearances with the club.
Rays seeking pop in the offseason
Per Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) the Rays’ main offseason objective is to acquire a right-handed power hitter, to join Tommy Pham in the middle of the order, with presence and pop. Topkin named Nelson Cruz, Andrew McCutchen, and Josh Donaldson as free agents who would qualify, adding that it appears the team will move on without righty-swinging first baseman C.J. Cron, who belted 30 home runs in 2018.
Even though Cron performed well in 2018, and will be affordable next season (MLB Trade Rumors contributor Matt Swartz projects a $5.2-million salary), the Rays could trade the first baseman prior to the November 30 non-tender deadline, as the team is seeking a more “feared” and consistent hitter.
Speaking of who the Rays may be seeking in the offseason, MLB Trade Rumors released its annual top 50 free agents and their contract predictions.
Among the players listed, hurler Lance Lynn has been predicted to sign with Tampa Bay this offseason, projecting a two year, $16-million deal.
As Tim Dierkes (MLB Trade Rumors) writes:
Like Moustakas, Lynn was one of the free agents who got body-slammed by the 2017-18 market freeze. MLBTR projected a four-year, $56MM deal for Lynn coming off a solid season for the Cardinals, yet the righty fell to the Twins in March on a one-year, $12MM deal. He struggled in 20 starts for Minnesota, as his already-high walk rate got out of hand. The Twins sent him to the Yankees at the trade deadline. Lynn wound up making nine starts for New York, with a 4.60 ERA but a 2.17 FIP, 3.03 xFIP, 10.0 K/9, and 2.5 BB/9. Despite the small sample, those peripherals are intriguing and should land Lynn a rotation job — if not a two-year deal — somewhere.
— Just your daily reminder that the clock is tick-tick-ticking down to the inevitable January 1 deadline in which Stu Sternberg has to inform the city of St. Petersburg whether he will be opting out of the Tropicana Field lease early. If you’re counting down, as of Monday, Hillsborough County — which is tapped out and cannot adequately fund crucial infrastructure improvements, much less a stadium — has just 57 days to come up with to come up with, at minimum, $300-million in stadium funding before the proposed $892-million stadium turns back into a pumpkin.
I think we have some work to do in terms of getting a financing plan together that will get that stadium built. But I remain confident if anybody can get it done in Tampa Bay, it’s Stu (Sternberg). Nobody is working harder at it, said MLB Commisioner Rob Manfred.
“Some work to do” — Ya think?
Honestly, staying at Tropicana Field and developing the land around it is looking like a better business move as the clock continues to tick down. Then again, there is a piece of property that is readily available, by way of a referendum, if it comes down to it…
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Hello DTSP and more specifically, Al Lang Stadium — former, future home of the Tampa Bay Rays. Now that the stadium is under Rays control, and with less than 60-days left on the MOU search window — which allowed the team to search for a stadium deal elsewhere — the presumptive future, future home of the #Rays (if/when the stadium deal falls through in Ybor, of course).