Rumblings on a pair of American League East clubs…
- It seems the Rays’ main offseason objective is to acquire a right-handed power hitter they can pencil into the middle of their order, suggests the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin, who names Nelson Cruz, Andrew McCutchen, Josh Donaldson and ex-Ray Wilson Ramos as free agents who would qualify. Topkin adds that it continues to appear as if Tampa Bay will move on without righty-swinging first baseman C.J. Cron, who belted 30 home runs in 2018. The Rays could trade Cron prior to the Nov. 30 non-tender deadline, Topkin observes. Even though Cron performed well this past season and will be affordable in 2019 (MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $5.2MM salary), the Rays want a more “feared” hitter, according to Topkin.
- More from Topkin, who also lists a righty-hitting catcher, a reliever to replace free agent Sergio Romo and “possibly a starter” on the Rays’ offseason wish list. Topkin wonders if the Rays will pursue free-agent catcher Robinson Chirinos, whom the Rangers surprisingly cut ties with Friday. The 34-year-old already has one stint with the Rays under his belt, as they acquired him from the Cubs in a 2011 blockbuster which saw Matt Garza and Chris Archer, among others, change teams. Chirinos ultimately racked up just 60 PAs with the Rays, who dealt him to Texas in 2013. It was an unheralded move at the time, but Chirinos turned into a quality offensive backstop as a Ranger, posting a .768 OPS in 1,546 PAs with the club.
- Orioles infielder Tim Beckham and catcher Caleb Joseph are “at risk” of being non-tendered before the deadline, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes. Swartz projects Beckham to rake in $4.3MM via arbitration, and that would’ve been a reasonable sum had the 28-year-old looked something like his 2017 self this past season. Beckham instead took several steps backward, hitting .230/.287/.374 (79 wRC+) with minus-0.5 fWAR in 402 plate appearances. Joseph, who’s projected to earn $1.7MM, was also ineffective, evidenced by a meager .219/.254/.321 line (54 wRC+) in 280 trips to the plate. Moreover, the 32-year-old was among the majors’ worst defensive catchers in 2018, per Baseball Prospectus.