Though many expected Brad Miller to land the everyday shortstop job for the Rays following Tampa Bay’s trade with the Mariners, that’s not necessarily the case, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays could still very well swing a trade for Javier Baez or another young infielder if they’re willing to part with a starting pitcher, he notes. And, even if the Rays don’t add another shortstop option, Miller’s struggles with lefties create the possibility of at least a platoon situation with the right-handed-hitting Tim Beckham. Nick Franklin remains an option as well, though a poor 2015 campaign likely means he’ll head to Triple-A to begin the 2016 season. Manager Kevin Cash noted to Topkin, though, that his hope is for someone to take the reins early and cement himself as the man for the job.
More on the Rays and more from their division…
- Topkin also writes that virtually every club in baseball expressed some interest in Kevin Kiermaier at the Winter Meetings, though the Rays probably don’t have much interest in parting with the elite defender. Topkin adds that the Brewers and Pirates seem like possible fits for a potential James Loney deal, noting that both have had interest in the past. He also speculates that Jake McGee could be a fit with the Dodgers now that their pursuit of Aroldis Chapman has been halted by his domestic violence allegations.
- Gary Sanchez is the front-runner to be Brian McCann’s backup for the Yankees in 2016, writes George A. King III of the New York Post. While Austin Romine will be in the competition and might get the job early on due to Sanchez’s lack of experience at Triple-A, King suggests that Sanchez will hold down the job for the majority of the season. GM Brian Cashman praised Sanchez, stating that the 23-year-old has “improved in every category” from last season, specifically citing his improved pitch blocking, game calling and throwing.
- J.J. Hardy spoke with MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko at the Orioles’ recent FanFest event and provided an update on a shoulder injury that plagued him throughout the 2015 season. Hardy has been working out for seven weeks and expects an offseason of rest and rehabilitation to lead to improvements in 2016. While he said it was a very difficult decision to forego surgery on the shoulder to repair the small tear in his labrum, Hardy noted that he’s been through that process before and felt last time that it took a full six months of actually playing baseball after the recovery for him to feel normal again. Surgery also could’ve sidelined Hardy through Spring Training and into the regular season.
- Kubatko also spoke with Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph about Matt Wieters’ return to the team. While Wieters’ decision to accept the qualifying offer impedes Joseph’s path to regular playing time behind the plate, Joseph had nothing but positive things to say about Wieters, calling him a mentor and praising him for his willingness to provide insight on hitters, his work to help Joseph improve his defensive techniques and more.
- Red Sox vice president of amateur and international scouting Amiel Sawdaye interviewed for the Blue Jays’ GM vacancy before the job went to former Cleveland vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).