It’s been a quiet offseason for outfielder Desmond Jennings, who was released by the Rays back in August and remains a free agent. The 30-year-old missed the majority of the 2015-16 seasons due to hamstring and knee injuries (including knee surgery in June of 2015), but Mike Fiore, the vice president of the Boras Corporation (Jennings’ agency), tells Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that Jennings is healthy and could sign with a team by the end of the week.
Jennings once rated as one of the top prospects in all of baseball and looked to be on the way to establishing himself as a solid everyday center fielder for the Rays. From 2011-13, Jennings batted a combined .251/.331/.410, averaging 18 home runs and 35 steals per 162 games played to go along with solid (if unspectacular) defense. His production took a step back in 2014, however, and he hit the disabled list with bursitis in his left knee early in the 2015 season. That injury eventually led to surgery, and while Jennings did briefly return in August, he was quickly placed back on the DL with lingering discomfort in the knee. He appeared in just 28 games that season and just 65 in 2016.
For a player with the leg issues that Jennings has experienced in the past two seasons, moving away from the artificial playing surface at Tropicana Field seems like a step in the right direction. Topkin suggests that a reunion with the Rays won’t be happening, but there are a number of clubs that could still use a right-handed bat to plug into the outfield mix. Jennings may not be an everyday option in center field any longer — the Rays had already been playing him in left field more regularly — but he should theoretically be able to split time across the three outfield slots as needed, assuming he is indeed back up to full strength.
From a purely speculative standpoint, the Orioles, Tigers, Twins, Braves, White Sox and Giants all seem like plausible landing spots for Jennings. However, to this point in the offseason he’s yet to be connected to a specific team.