Tampa Bay’s struggling offense gets a boost tonight, as Matt Joyce returns from the disabled list after missing the past month with an oblique injury.
Joyce went 2-for-8 with a double in two games at Single-A and his return as the Rays’ primary right fielder means that Ben Zobrist will shift from the outfield to second base.
To make room for Joyce on the roster the Rays optioned Will Rhymes to Triple-A after the 29-year-old infielder hit just .233 with one homer and a .598 OPS in 45 games. Joyce batted .279 with 11 homers and an .899 OPS in 62 games before the injury and has been one of the more underrated hitters in the league since becoming a regular in 2010.
As a team the Rays have hit just .222 with a .301 on-base percentage and .347 slugging percentage since June 1.
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.