Donovan Tate, the third overall pick in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft, was a no-show this spring at Padres camp due to what was described by club officials as a personal matter. Now more than four months later, that personal matter has apparently been resolved.
Corey Brock of MLB.com reports that Tate finally arrived at the Padres’ spring training complex in Peoria, Arizona on Monday to begin working his way back into baseball shape. He spoke with reporters Tuesday: “I left baseball in order to gain a grasp on some personal issues in my life,” said Tate. “It’s been the same kind of things that I’ve been dealing with in my life for a long time. I’ve been very blessed to be part of the Padres. They’ve been very supportive of everything I’ve gone through and haven’t given up on me.”
Tate, who received a $6.25 million signing bonus soon after being drafted, was suspended 50 games in June 2011 following a second positive test for a drug of abuse (not a performance-enhancer). The athletic outfielder is a .241/.358/.320 career hitter in the minor leagues and will turn 23 years old in September.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.
Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.
Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.