Rays hope Diaz can replace Bauers in their lineup

by Gary Shelton on December 14, 2018 · 5 comments

in general

Bauers was popular despite his average./JEFFREY S. KING

Friday, 3 a.m.

If you were doubly disappointed by the Tampa Bay Rays' trade of Jake Bauers Thursday afternoon,the reason is simple.

They traded both Jake Bauers.

They traded Jake the symbol, the kid who was on the front line of the youth movement that is supposed to be the start of Tampa Bay's next successful run. They traded the nice swing and the great smile. They traded Willy Adames' baseball buddy.

Also, they traded Jake the baseball player, the kid who hit .201 for last season, the player who made you wonder if his average would ever offset the

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fact he was not a great power hitter. They traded lingering questions of if Bauers would hit enough to stay out of the minor leagues forever.

The Rays looked at Jake the package Thursday, and decided they would rather have Indians' prospect Yander Diaz than the sum of Bauers part. It wasn't close. The Rays wanted Diaz so badly that they kicked in $5 million for Diaz and minor league pitcher Cole Sulser. That's a hefty price for a player who hit one home run last season.

Diaz hit just one home run in 2017 and has 27 in five major league seasons. Whether he can challenge for at-bats at third base (where Matt Duffy, Daniel Robertson and Brandon Lowe will compete) or first (where the team has jettisoned C.J. Cron and Bauers) or DH will be seen.

For the Rays, there has been heavy work to this offseason. They have shipped out Mallex Smith and Bauers, and they have brought in catcher Mike Zunino, Diaz and signed Charlie Morton to a free-agent contract.

Are they better?

It depends. Can Smith continue to invigorate a lineup at the top? Can Bauers get his average to a respectable level? Is the team right on Diaz?

Those discussions should carry fans through an off-season.




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