It seems like “a longshot” that Logan Morrison will return to the Rays next year, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain opines as part of a reader mailbag piece. Morrison posted middling numbers in 2016 and underwent wrist surgery in September of that year, which cooled his free agent market to the point that the Rays were able to re-sign him to a one-year, $2.5MM deal. That proved to be a nice bargain for Tampa Bay, as Morrison hit .246/.353/.516 with 38 homers over 601 plate appearances. The Rays seem committed to giving rookie Jake Bauers a shot at first base next year but are looking for a veteran depth option, and they’d certainly be open to a reunion with Morrison if he again faced a thin market. However, Morrison’s career year has likely earned him a steadier full-time gig and priced him out of Tampa’s plans. Here’s some more on the Rays…
- Hillsborough Country officials have run into difficulty trying to secure downtown land for the Rays’ new ballpark, forcing the search for a new site to expand to Tampa’s West Shore area, Steve Contorto of the Tampa Bay Times reports. While the West Shore area has some positives as a potential ballpark site, “broadening the hunt at this point — 22 months after St. Petersburg allowed the Rays to search for a new home away from Tropicana Field — can only be seen as a step backward for an effort many hoped would have been wrapped up by now,” Contorto writes. It isn’t certain if a new site will be agreed upon before the year is over, and once a site is found, there’s still the large matter of determining of how the costs of the new ballpark will be split between the team and the county.
- The Rays have 5-10 candidates on their list of potential interviewees for their vacant third base coach and assistant hitting coach vacancies, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Tigers third base coach Dave Clark, Phillies third base coach Juan Samuel, former Mariners bench coach Tim Bogar and Triple-A hitting coach Ozzie Timmons are all possible candidates, with Topkin wondering if Red Sox third base coach Brian Butterfield could also get some consideration.
- Top prospect Brendan McKay will be working strictly as a position player during instructional league action this fall, though Rays director of minor league operations Mitch Lukevics tells MLB.com’s Mike Rosenbaum that this decision was made due to McKay already throwing quite a few innings this year between college and minor league games. The fourth overall pick of the 2017 draft posted a 1.80 ERA over 20 IP at low-A ball this season while hitting .232/.349/.376 in his first 149 professional plate appearances, playing at first base and serving as a designated hitter. It it yet to be seen if “Two Way McKay” will continue both pitching and playing in the field, though the Rays still appear open to using McKay in this intriguing dual capacity.