Posted on February 21, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
After subtracting quite a few players this offseason, the Tampa Bay Rays are finally adding pieces for the 2018 season. The Rays have reportedly struck a deal with outfielder Carlos Gomez. It’s reportedly a one-year deal for $4 million plus incentives. The signing will add some much-needed reinforcements to Tampa Bay’s outfield after parting ways with Steve Souza Jr. and Corey Dickerson over the past week.
Gomez has been up and down over the past two seasons. However, ever since leaving the Houston Astros in 2016, he’s been on the up and up. Gomez hit .255 with an OPS of .802 last year with the Texas Rangers. If he can keep producing at that rate, the 32-year old Gomez should be a useful contributor to the Rays this season. At a price of $4 million, he could end up being a huge bargain. Considering Tampa’s apparent budget constraints, signing Gomez at this price is ideal for the Rays.
Tampa Bay has come under fire in recent days from their own players for the recent fire sale. In addition to trading Souza and designating Dickerson for assignment, starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi has also been traded. Third baseman and face of the franchise Evan Longoria was also traded earlier this offseason, creating a drastic change in the makeup of the roster.
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“I am 100% frustrated and very upset with the moves,” center fielder Kevin Kiermaier said earlier this week. “No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why. And then you see the team’s explanation and still, it’s just like, ‘OK, well, so be it.'”
Obviously, adding Gomez isn’t going to fill the void of Souza, Dickerson, and Longoria in the lineup. But it is a step in the right direction for the Rays. Even without Odorizzi, the Rays still have a strong starting rotation that could put them in a position to compete. However, with the power they’ve lost from their lineup during the fire sale, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Rays struggle offensively this season.
If nothing else, the addition of Gomez should help to shore up Tampa’s outfield situation. Kiermaier is in line to be the everyday second fielder. Meanwhile, Gomez, Mallex Smith, and Denard Span figure to split time in the corner outfield spots. Tampa Bay’s best lineup is likely to feature Smith in left field and Gomez in right field. Such an outfield would be outstanding defensively in support of the team’s pitching staff. But that group could be lacking offensively.
The addition of Gomez should help to counteract the players the Rays have traded away this winter. However, adding Gomez pails in comparison to what the Rays lost. Based on their recent moves, Tampa Bay is now more focused on speed and defense rather than power. However, despite signing Gomez, it’s tough to argue that the Rays are making a concerted effort to be competitive in 2018.