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Olney: Teams could utilize a four-man outfield soon

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On the heels of the stats revolution that popularized the use of the infield shift, ESPN’s Buster Olney thinks teams could soon utilize a four-man outfield in certain situations. According to Olney, some evaluators have considered the possibility as a means to curtail big innings in high-leverage situations.

Olney goes through several scenarios, suggesting that it would take a confluence of factors to make a team resort to a four-man outfield: the pitcher would need to be prone to giving up fly balls, the batter would need to be prone to hitting fly balls to his pull side, and it would likely have to be in a two-out situation.

Many scoffed when teams began implementing shifts on a regular basis, suggesting that teams were overthinking. I’d imagine many of the same people will scoff at the idea of a four-man outfield. I’m with Olney, though, in thinking that it very well could become a part of teams’ defensive¬†arsenals.

That being said, the idea of a four-man outfield isn’t new. As Olney notes, then-Rays manager Joe Maddon utilized a four-man outfield against noted sluggers David Ortiz and Jim Thome. It hasn’t been used much since then, however.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays; Yankees land Brandon Drury

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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.