Update: Yesterday we brought you news that the Rays may be interested in utility infielder, Ryan Roberts, and we also chimed in that we thought maybe Longoria wouldn’t be back this season. In another piece, we noted how the timing of Roberts getting DFA’d may have been kismet for the Rays. Well folks, the news broke over night, the Rays acquired Ryan Roberts, 31, for Double-A second basemen Tyler Bortnick. “Roberts will join the Rays Wednesday in Baltimore. Tampa Bay will have to make a corresponding move to make room, with the possibility of optioning INF Brooks Conrad,” said Marc Topkin regarding the acquisition.
- Plays good defense at second and third base, but can also play in the outfield.
- He’s a contact hitter with power potential. Roberts swing has been described as more Jeff Keppinger, and less Brooks Conrad. To that end, Roberts has had a lot of success on pitches located on the inner half of the plate.
- He’s under team control for the next three seasons. He is already making $2 MM which will jump up to $2.5 MM in the 2013 season.
- $2.5 MM is a hefty sum to pay a bench players. However, his role may expand based on other moves.
The skinny: Roberts can fill in at third base while also providing the Rays with better offensive production than they currently have. He could also slide over to second base, play the outfield when Zo, Upton, or Jennings may need a day off, and serve as a bench player when Longoria returns.
The process report published a good piece on the Roberts deal. Other than the implication that the Rays could use Zobrist as trade fodder, it’s worth a read. You can check it out here.
Monday brought news that the Rays may be interested in utility infielder Ryan Roberts, currently of the Arizona Diamondbacks. If any of you are like me, you probably asked yourself, why do the Rays needs yet another utility infielder? On the surface, that seems like a valid question. But if you dig just a touch deeper, you start to realize that Roberts may be desirable because Evan Longoria may not make it back this season. Just here me out.
First, MLB Trade Rumors noted that, “Roberts, who fits the typical Rays mold of being able to play multiple positions, could fill in at third base with Evan Longoria on the disabled list.” Roberts has appeared in 60 games at third base this season, committing seven errors and turning eight double plays. You may say that Keppinger has been solid defensively at third, and inquire about the attraction that Roberts posses. And I’d agreed with you, Kepp has been solid. Plus he’s been one of the most consistent Rays at the plate. I have to think that the attraction to Roberts is two-fold:
A) Roberts is no stranger to the middle infield, third base, and the outfield. That is, you could feasibly have Roberts, Kepp, Joyce, and Zobrist in the lineup on any given day.
B) Though his 2012 .252 BA/.307 OBP/.360 SLG/.667 OPS line, with six homers and six steals isn’t indicative of what he has to offer, one only needs to look at his breakout numbers last season. In 2011, Roberts posted a .249 BA/.341 OBP/.427 SLG/.768 OPS line, with 19 homers and 18 steals. He can be productive, and a change of scenery may be what Roberts needs.
If that doesn’t fully explain why I think Longo might not be back, perhaps this will shed a little more light on things. Yesterday morning, Andrew Friedman joined Rick Stroud on 620 WDAE and alluded to something that he hasn’t alluded to before. Though Friedman is generally optimistic that Longoria will return at some point, he admits that there is a possibility that he won’t be back, and he won’t be 100% until the off-season. Friedman went on to say,
“It is something that we don’t have a great answer to what’s going on. It’s not a bone that you can take an x-ray of and know we are x-amount of weeks out. It’s such a feel thing. And we’re getting to the point where we are going to start increasing activity and seeing how it goes. But even if/when he goes on a rehab assignment. Even if/when he comes back. And whether we are fortunate enough to do it earlier in the DH role. Or whether it takes a little bit longer to come back and play third. It is something that we are never going to feel incredibly confident about, I don’t think, until the end of the year. He’s going to play through some pain. And so, I think it is something that is going to take until the off-season to really address.”
I cannot see a team actively pursuing a player when they have the pieces in front of them, or when they expect a critical piece of the puzzle to return. That is unless that team may be acknowledging that those pieces may be lacking some umph, or that a critical piece may not be returning. What I’m trying to say is that the Rays have players to fill the holes, after all they acquired Brooks Conrad, Hideki Matsui, and Brandon Allen for a reason. However, it’s glaringly obvious that Conrad and Matsui haven’t offered the team much of anything, and Allen isn’t going to return anytime soon, unless his 24.8% strikeout percentage drops. I also cannot see the Rays incurring the rest of Roberts contract if Longoria is expected to return.
Look at the bright side, at least Sam Fuld returning to the, well, fold hopefully means that Conrad and Matsui will see even less playing time.