When the Rays designated Pat Burrell for assignment earlier today, it signaled that Pat the Bat has likely played his last game in a Tampa Bay uniform. The team now has ten days to either trade, waive or release him. While we wait to see how exactly the situation plays out, let's play the what-if game, and assume the Rays are forced to release Burrell. In that case, which clubs might be interested in him at a reduced price?
- In April, the Nationals were linked to both Jermaine Dye and Gary Sheffield, similar players to Burrell. However, despite the struggles by their right fielders so far this year, the Nationals insist they like their current options. It's worth mentioning too that Burrell has played only nine innings in the outfield since joining the Rays, which might reduce his chances of landing with a National League team.
- The Athletics have a history of making low-risk investments on players like Burrell and could use some power, having only hit 22 homers as a team. They did just call up their own version of Burrell, in Jack Cust, but Cust is capable of playing the outfield, which still leaves a potential designated hitter opening.
- The Mariners were considered a possible suitor for Hank Blalock before the Rays recalled him. Considering their DH issues, they'd have to think about kicking the tires on Burrell now.
- Following the news of Burrell's DFA, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki wrote that Philadelphia probably doesn't have room for the former Phillie.
- A week ago, MLBTR's Mike Axisa listed a few teams who could use an upgrade at DH. They could all be possibilities for Burrell, though in many cases he wouldn't necessarily represent an "upgrade."
Burrell's numbers in 572 plate appearances for Tampa Bay (.218/.311/.361) don't inspire confidence in his potential to be a difference-maker for a contender this season. But perhaps a change of scenery could help him regain his 2005-2008 form, when he averaged 31 home runs per year and recorded a .386 OBP. If the Rays end up on the hook for the majority of Burrell's $9MM salary, there should be a few clubs willing to give him a shot.