On the heels of a 6-3 loss against the Toronto Blue Jays, manager Kevin Cash and the Tampa Bay Rays made another round of roster cuts, this time reassigning four players while optioning utility-man Taylor Motter back to Triple-A.
The players reassigned to minor-league camp were C Mayo Acosta, OF Jaff Decker, RHP Jhan Marinez, RHP Tyler Sturdevant. Acosta will remain with the big-league team for the the next week.
The Rays skipper said all four showed well, and Cash expects Marinez and Sturdevant to help out with the big league squad during the season.
The Rays likewise optioned utility-man Taylor Motter back to Triple-A, making Tim Beckham the backup middle infielder; the 25th man if you will.
Cash said Motter “did everything he could” to earn a spot on the Opening Day roster, and the organization has confidence in calling him up if there was a need at any point. Motter will continue to play all over the field at Durham, including up the middle.
Even though Beckham had been viewed by many as the likely choice to keep his position on the 25-man roster, I still find the decision a bit surprising.
ZiPS projected Motter to post a 1.2 WAR in 475 at-bats in 2016. His counterpart, on the other hand, is projected for a -0.3 WAR in 277 at-bats. And while shortstop is Motter’s preferred position, he has the ability to play all over the infield and outfield, making him more versatile than Beckham, who typically can only be found up the middle.
Motter told David Laurila (FanGraphs) that he cherishes the opportunity to play anywhere in the field, saying,
I love to be in the moment and I love to be all over the place. Being able to do everything, everywhere, is awesome. If somebody gets hurt, I’m next in line, because I can do everything. I want to be known as the workhorse, the guy who plays everywhere and runs balls out, dives for balls. I want to be known as the guy who comes off the field dirty.
Equally as important, last season in Triple-A, Motter hit .292 BA/.366 OBP/.471 SLG/.837 OPS with 42 doubles and 14 home runs. That, paired with his speed (Motter swiped 26 bases), would make him an asset to the Rays.
Comparatively speaking Beckham slashed a .222 BA/.274 OBP/.429 SLG/.703 OPS line last season with seven doubles, nine homers, and three stolen bases. And those flashy tools that made Beckham a top pick? They’ve never translated to the field.
Ultimately it is what it is. The likelihood of seeing Motter at some point in the upcoming season is good, while the struggle for Beckham to keep his job is all to real.