For the past year or so most people have assumed that the Rays would replace Carl Crawford in left field with top prospect Desmond Jennings, a 23-year-old speedster who’s drawn frequent comparisons to Crawford while coming up through the minors.
However, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times “the most likely scenario” for the Rays’ outfield on Opening Day is B.J. Upton in center field flanked by Matt Joyce in left field and Ben Zobrist in right field.
Nothing is set in stone yet, of course. Topkin writes that Jennings “will get a long spring chance to show if he’s ready” and if the Rays feel they need Zobrist more as an infielder the path would be pretty clear for Jennings to make the Opening Day roster.
Jennings got his first taste of the majors in September, going 4-for-21 (.190), but prior to that he had a relatively underwhelming season at Triple-A by hitting .278 with a .362 on-base percentage and .393 slugging percentage in 109 games. He did swipe 37 bases while being caught just four times and posted a solid 67/47 K/BB ratio at Durham.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Pirates will sign reliever Felipe Rivero to a four-year contract extension that includes two club options. The total value of the deal is believed to be $22 million and each club option is worth $10 million.
Rivero, 26, did not come to an agreement with the Pirates to avoid arbitration in his first year of eligibility ahead of last Friday’s deadline. He requested a $2.9 million salary for the 2018 season while the Pirates countered at $2.4 million. This extension will cover all four years of Rivero’s arbitration eligibility and the two club options can cover his first two years of free agency as well.
Rivero was one of baseball’s best relievers last season, finishing with 21 saves, a 1.67 ERA, and an 88/20 K/BB ratio in 75 1/3 innings. The Pirates acquired him from the Nationals along with minor leaguer Taylor Hearn ahead of the 2016 non-waiver trade deadline in the Mark Melancon deal.
Presumably, Rivero’s extension was in the works before he knew anything about the Andrew McCutchen trade. He made a couple of tweets following this afternoon’s news. In one, he used only the “facepalm” emoji. The other was a .gif of The Office character Jim Halpert yelling, “What is going on?”