AL East Notes: Rays, Escobar, Johnson, Red Sox

In his Sunday column, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes that “the key to [the Rays‘] offseason flexibility might be trades” before noting that Tampa would be eager to deal either Grant Balfour or Jose Molina if they opportunity presented itself. He also speculates that names such as Matt Joyce, Sean Rodriguez and Jeremy Hellickson are names to watch, and he wonders whether or not Desmond Jennings and even Wil Myers will be discussed in trades this winter as well.

Here’s more from Topkin’s piece and the rest of the AL East…

  • While trading Yunel Escobar to the A’s or letting him go on waivers might’ve been popular with Rays fans (and even some in the clubhouse, Topkin notes), the team held onto him for multiple reasons. Firstly, the Rays are confident that Escobar will rebound from a tough 2014 season next year. They also don’t trust Ben Zobrist at shortstop next year in his age-34 season and aren’t sold on Nick Franklin‘s defense at short. Nor are they certain whether or not Hak-Ju Lee and Tim Beckham will be ready in 2015. Beyond that, the Rays don’t feel they can replace Escobar for as cheap little as he stands to earn in 2015 ($5MM).
  • Kelly Johnson, who went to the Orioles as the key to a four-player deal Saturday night, is now headed to his fifth straight AL East team. He’s happy to be headed to a likely playoff team in Baltimore, he tells the Providence Journal’s Tim Britton. “It’s crazy,” says Johnson. “Obviously I’ll be familiar with the surroundings. … I’m obviously excited to be in a situation where you’re on a first-place team.”
  • In a second piece, Britton also looked at the struggles of Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley, and he spoke with Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen about whether or not the hardships experienced by that duo has led the Sox to reevaluate their evaluation process for young players. Hazen speaks at length about the league-wide decline of offense, the increase in defensive shifts and the progress made in scouting reports, noting that it’s tougher now for young players to break through.

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9 Comments on "AL East Notes: Rays, Escobar, Johnson, Red Sox"

Jack Campbell
1 year 2 days ago

I think Bogaerts will be fine. He’s 21. Not everybody bursts on to the scene like Trout. Same goes for Bradley.

1 year 2 days ago

Bradley is best suited to go to an NL team, where his spotty hitting will have a longer leash. The Sox are moving on.

1 year 2 days ago

I bet you the Red Sox give him another shot. His trade value will likely never be lower and he is still a recent top prospect. He’ll get another chance to prove himself next spring training at least, although after that he may never see a Red Sox uniform if he doesn’t show he’s able to hit. After all, he had a 130ish wRC+ in AAA last year.

1 year 2 days ago

We all know JBJ can play in the minors. That’s nothing new. His bat is atrocious at the ML level.

There’s nowhere for him to play anymore. Maybe he’ll be the 4th outfielder, but there’s no more starting shots for him unless someone gets injured.

Bob Bunker
1 year 1 day ago

I think he gets a shot to be more then a 4th OF because otherwise they are trading him at his lowest possible value. Like I can’t think of any team that would give them anything of value.

Better to give JBJ spring training and maybe the month of April to see if his hitting can become even slightly below league average because his defense is fantastic.

Not like the Sox have any other players proven at CF.

1 year 1 day ago

Yes, but in a season in which they plan to compete, you figure to have Castillo, Victorino, Cespedes, Craig, Betts and Bradley all vying for playing time, and if you can’t hit then you won’t get the spot…He needs a change of scenary

Bob Bunker
1 year 9 hours ago

Of the players you listed only Castillo and Betts can play CF and both might be more suited for RF.

The team should trade Vic, have Betts try SS or 3B, have Craig rotate around 1B, DH, and LF to give rest days, have Castillo in RF, Cespedes in LF, and JBJ get one last try at CF if he has a strong spring training.

If JBJ struggles in the spring then have him start in AAA and try to rebuild his value for a deadline deal

11 months 29 days ago

JBJ is the far superior defender, but the lack of the bat really puts him behind both CF options in my opinion

Joe Morales
1 year 2 days ago

It would be interesting to see an analysis of how the increase in defensive shifting has affected batting averages.