Rays manager Kevin Cash confirmed that his team will again use the “opener” strategy in 2019, telling Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times and other reporters that openers will “start” at least twice during every turn in the rotation. AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell and right-hander Tyler Glasnow are currently projected as the only conventional full-time starters in Tampa’s rotation, and Cash also noted that some of the pitchers the Rays used as long men last season (Yonny Chirinos, Ryan Yarbrough, Wilmer Font, or Jalen Beeks) could be deployed as regular starters.
Here’s more from around the AL East…
- It doesn’t seem as if the Red Sox will be re-signing Craig Kimbrel, as club president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters (including MLB.com’s Ian Browne and MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) today that “we’re not looking to make a big expenditure in” the closer position. Past reports indicated that Boston had only limited interest in bringing back the star closer, and with Kimbrel seeking a six-year deal, it seems as if his asking price will simply be too high for the team’s liking. If Kimbrel isn’t returning, the Red Sox are looking around for other relief options, and Dombrowski noted that they would prefer inking a closer to a short-term deal. It also isn’t out of the question that the Sox use Ryan Brasier or Matt Barnes as a closer next season, though Dombrowski said it’s too early in the offseason for such determinations.
- Dombrowski also mentioned that the Red Sox had received interest in catchers Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart, and Sandy Leon, and that the club is “open to discussing” any of the three in trade talks. None of the trio are coming off good reasons, though Leon and Vazquez have a lot of defensive upside and Swihart may yet be able to unlock his prospect potential with a change of scenery.
- The Blue Jays have been drawing interest in Russell Martin and other catchers, while a rival executive describes closer Ken Giles as “available” in trade talks, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi reports. It stands to reason that the rebuilding Jays are open to just about any veteran on their roster, though Giles’ market may not develop until some of the other notable relievers on the free agent or trade fronts have been moved. Another rival executive believes Martin has trade value despite a $20MM salary owed in 2019, though the Jays’ willingness to eat a significant portion of that money will determine if a deal is realistic or not. Absorbing more of the salary would improve the quality of the prospect(s) Toronto received, Davidi writes.