Should Rays invest in the future with Adames?

by Gary Shelton on February 25, 2020

in general

Might the Rays keep Adames long term?/CARMEN MANDATO

You run the Tampa Bay Rays, and the heavy lifting is over.

The off-season is complete, and the roster is assembled. Once again, your team is prepared to be the mongoose to the cobra that is the New York Yankees in the AL East.The power has been imported. The arms have been retained.

So what now?

Well, you can take in some spring baseball. Whee. You can order a few thousand hot dogs for opening night, and about 16 for the second night. (Crowds do fall off, don't they?). You can pick over the remaining free agents and see if there is a bargain to be had.

Oh, yeah. And you can invest in the future.

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Most of the time, the Rays are so tight their pennies squeak. This team doesn't steal signs, but if you have a spare change jar, it might be at risk.

Ah, but every now and then, the Rays will surprise you and pony up with a big contract to buy more years from a key player. They did it with Even Longoria, remember? They did with Kevin Kiermaier, and with Brandon Lowe, and with Blake Snell.

So you look at the roster, and perhaps you wonder. Who is worth a major investment now? Who could you invest in?

Austin Meadows comes to mind. He's 24, and he's coming off an All-Star season in which he hit .291 and 33 home runs. He'd be a good place to start, wouldn't he?

But Meadows has had exactly one good season. So perhaps you'd like to see a little more from him. You might have jumped the gun with Lowe, and the team overpaid Kiermaier. So maybe you want to go a little slower.

How about Tyler Glasnow? Glasnow started last season like a house afire. He was 6-0 in early May.

Ah, but teams move cautiously when a pitcher is injured. True, Glasnow came back for the late season, but he wasn't the whiz kid.

How about Nick Anderson? He was lights-out as a setup man last year. But even if he's the closer this year, the Rays traditionally don't pay that role the way a lot of teams do.

Yoshitomo Tsutsugo? Too soon. No one knows how his game will translate from Japan's. Jose Martínez? Not enough defense. Brendan McKay? Not enough proof that he's not another Jeremy Hellickson.

No, there is one phone call I make to see if a deal can be struck.

That's to the agent of Willie Adames.

He's a better player than he's been given credit for. Slow starts on offense have hampered him in each of the last two seasons, robbing him of any all-star buzz. But he was third in the American League in defensive WAR last year. He has a .263 average and 30 home runs over the last two years, not bad for a shortstop.

In fact, it's marginally higher than four shortstops who are in the baseball Hall of Fame.

Granted, it takes two to make a deal. Adames' agent might just laugh and say "We're counting the days to free agency." You can't make a guy sign.

But if you are the Rays, that's the play to make.


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