Most assume the Diamondbacks and shortstop Stephen Drew are breaking up, if not now then in a few months, but GM Kevin Towers said he’s yet to be offered a deal that makes sense for the team, MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reports.
FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal stated last week that the Pirates, Red Sox and Tigers were interested in Drew, though Buster Olney later tried to debunk the Pirates and Red Sox rumors. Also, the Tigers have since acquired Omar Infante, making the acquisition of another infielder less likely. Oakland would be one obvious destination for Drew, though the A’s may be focusing more on Hanley Ramirez at the moment. The Rays could use some shortstop help, but they’re believed to be aiming lower than Drew and may actually end up acquiring another Diamondbacks infielder, Ryan Roberts.
Another possible fit would be the Nationals. They could use Drew at shortstop until Ian Desmond returns from his oblique injury and then possibly stick him in a utility role afterwards. They’d probably only go for such a deal if the price tag was modest.
Since Drew is still working his way back from last year’s ankle injury and has hit .217 in 17 games since returning to Arizona’s lineup, he’s someone who might clear waivers and get traded next month. In fact, the Diamondbacks might get a better return for him then than they would now, assuming that he starts hitting better with time.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.