It goes without saying, the Rays could really another bat (or two) in the lineup, especially if they’re going to be competitive in the AL East in 2013. And if that player could fit their DH/OF/1B needs, all the better. But as MLB Trade Rumors recently put it,
The choices available are somewhat limited at this stage of the offseason.
However, there are two intriguing possibilities out there that could fit the Rays needs, Jason Kubel and Lance Berkman.
The recent signing of Cody Ross whipped up a fury of speculation that the Diamondback may be willing to trade away 30 year-old left handed OF/DH, Jason Kubel.
Kubel hit a career-high 30 homers in 2012 while posting a .253 BA/.327 OBP/.506 SLG/.833 OPS slash line, with 90 RBI. He has now hit 20 or more homers in four of his last five seasons and is signed for a team-friendly $7.5 million next year, plus an option worth $7.5 million in 2014. $7.5MM is a pretty steep price to pay for the Rays. It could be argued though, if the Rays were truly serious about trading for fellow Diamondbacks OF, Justin Upton, who’ll be making north of $9MM in 2013, they’d be able to afford Jason Kubel. What the Diamondbacks may be seeking in return is also up in the air. It has been speculated that Arizona’s GM, Kevin Towers, likely would want pitching prospects for Kubel. Might the Diamondbacks be willing to eat some of Kubel’s contract like MLB Trade Rumors implied?
We first wrote of the Rays ‘tire-kicking’ interest in 36 year-old 1B/OF, Lance Berkman, back in November. Berkman hit .259 BA/.381 OBP/.444 SLG in 97 plate appearances for the Cardinals in 2012 but was hobbled by a pair of knee surgeries. He’s a career .296 BA/.409 OBP/.544 SLG hitter with 360 career homers between the Astros, Yankees and Cardinals. He hit 31 homers in 2011, and could fit the Rays DH needs. And since Berkman is an injury risk, using him in the DH role while also using him sparingly at first base could work out well for the Rays. How much money he’d be expecting is unknown. Berkman was quoted as saying,
I’m waiting to be blown away by an offer. If I’m not, I’ll be out here.
“Here” being Rice University where he’d serve as a volunteer assistant coach.
In other news, the Tampa Bay Times reported the results of a survey that found the Trop as being the “single most popular stadium option (for the Rays)” in Tampa Bay, with citizens wanting to “simply to keep the team playing at Tropicana Field.” Though it was recently found that the both Hillsborough and Pinellas counties could afford to build a new facility without raising taxes, much of publics feeling that the Rays should stay in the Trop “Stems from (a) fear that public money would have to underwrite any new stadium.” According to the Times, the respondents of the survey opposed the idea of a new facility by a margin of 50 percent to 41 percent, even if their own taxes were unaffected. And yes kids, the aforementioned survey included Tampa/Hillsborough citizens. It can be assumed that the 36% of respondents that would like to see the Rays stay in the Trop, combined with the 22% of citizens that would like to see a new facility built in Carillon, represent a large constituency that would have the Rays staying on this side of the bay.
In my opinion, this article should at least spark (anew) the conversation on whether rehabbing the Trop could be a viable option. True, it has been traditionally seen that rehabbing Tropicana Field would not be a prudent course of action. It’s been long seen that an overhaul of the Trop may cost upward of $471 million. That overhaul would be complete with a retractable roof, supersized concourse and upgraded seating.
It’s well known that Tampa’s mayor, Bob Buckhorn, thinks that a stadium in downtown Tampa would spur development. You know…development that downtown St. Pete has quietly and consistently seen over the past four years or so; development that really hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down. If the survey is indicative of anything, Tampa’s citizens want nothing to do with the traffic woes that will be inflicted on Tampa. It’s been widely speculated that a new suburban facility near the Hard Rock is out of the question as well. In the end, new stadium sites in Pinellas or Hillsborough will be a very tough sell to citizens on both sides of the bay who, time and again, have (and continue to be) been largely against building a new facility. With all of this in mind, why can’t we revisit the idea of overhauling the Trop?