It has been a dizzying few days for the Rays. Well, for their fans, mostly. The flurry of moves began on Saturday night when the Rays acquired C.J. Cron from the Angels before designating 2017 All-Star Corey Dickerson for assignment and trading staff mainstay Jake Odorizzi to the Twins. The wheeling and dealing continued on Tuesday when the club surprisingly swapped outfielder Steven Souza to the Diamondbacks as part of a three-team trade. Rather than subtract, the Rays got back to adding on Wednesday by reportedly signing veteran outfielder Carlos Gomez to a one-year, $4 million contract.
Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com first reported the news while beat writer Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times added the financial details. The Rays already have a pretty good center fielder in Kevin Kiermaier, so Gomez should slide into the right field spot vacated by Souza. This leaves speedster Mallex Smith and offseason acquisition Denard Span competing for playing time in left field.
Gomez, 32, batted .255/.340/.462 with 17 home runs and 13 steals over 105 games with the Rangers last season. It can’t be ignored that he enjoyed the bulk of his production at home, putting up 12 homers and an .939 OPS compared to five homers and a .675 OPS on the road. Obviously Tropicana Field isn’t nearly as favorable for offense as his former home.
Gomez has struck out in 30 percent of his plate appearances over the past two seasons, so he’s clearly not the player he was even a couple of years ago, but he’s still capable of providing some pop and speed. He could be a viable option in deeper fantasy formats.
Maybin Returns to Miami
The other Florida team also added a familiar face on Wednesday, signing outfielder Cameron Maybin to a one-year, $3.25 million contract. The deal includes performance-based incentives. It’s a return home for Maybin, who appeared in 144 games with the Marlins from 2008-2010 after coming over in the blockbuster deal that sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers.
The Marlins notably traded their entire outfield — 2017 NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna — during the offseason, so they’ve been in the market for a veteran addition in recent weeks. Jon Jay and Melky Cabrera were among the names mentioned in reports before Miami announced the signing of Maybin on Wednesday.
After posting a career-best .801 OPS in 2016, Maybin dropped off last season while batting .228/.318/.365 with 10 homers and 33 steals over 114 games between the Angels and Astros. This included a .192/.255/.331 batting line after the All-Star break.
Maybin likely would have been looking at a part-time role elsewhere, but he should find himself with regular at-bats in Miami. Derek Dietrich is expected to see plenty of playing time in left field, so there should be a competition between youngsters Lewis Brinson, Magneuris Sierra, and Braxton Lee for opportunities in center field and right field. Maybin provides insurance in that regard and could be a cheap source for steals in fantasy leagues. Throw in his on-base ability and he could even hit near the top of the lineup. The ideal play for the Marlins would be turning a rebound season from Maybin into a trade before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Forrest Whitley emerged as arguably the top pitching prospect in the game last season after posting a 2.83 ERA and 143/34 K/BB ratio over 92 1/3 innings between three different levels in the Astros minor league system, but he’s going to have to wait a while to work on his follow-up. It was announced Wednesday that he will serve a 50-game suspension for a violation of the minor league drug prevention and treatment program.
It was not revealed what substance resulted in the violation. However, Whitley said in a statement that he “made a mistake” and takes “full responsibility” for his actions. The suspension means that he won’t be eligible to return until May 29. The 6-foot-7 right-hander made it all the way to Double-A last season, so a call-up at some point in 2018 has looked like a real possibility. It’s unclear if the suspension will impact the timetable, but one unintended consequence of his suspension is that the Astros will be able to limit his innings.
Selected No. 17 overall in the 2016 draft, Whitley was recently ranked within the top 10 prospects in the game by Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com.
Sano Weight Gain
Miguel Sano’s weight has been a topic of conversation for quite some time, but it’s back on the radar again following an offseason where his workouts were limited following surgery in mid-November to address the stress reaction in his shin.
According to Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Twins general manager Thad Levine recently acknowledged the added weight by referring to it as “generous carriage” and also said that the young slugger needs to work on “conditioning focus.” That’s not great news for someone who has been listed at 6-foot-4 and 260 pounds and is expected to be a regular at third base. He’s been cleared for normal baseball activities at this point, which should help, but the Twins plan to take it easy with him during Grapefruit League play.
Sano’s conditioning isn’t the only issue right now, as he was also accused of sexual assault in December. As of Sunday, he had yet to be questioned about the matter by MLB, but he could be facing some sort of suspension at the start of the season.
Sano turns 25 in May and batted .264/.352/.507 with 28 home runs and 77 RBI over 114 games last season.
Quick Hits: Brian Dozier (kidney stones) returned to Twins’ camp on Wednesday … Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Wednesday that he’s planning to use Yuli Gurriel all over the infield this season … While his future appeared in doubt last summer, outfielder Colby Rasmus will try to earn his way back to the majors after signing a minor league deal with the Orioles … The Angels acquired outfielder Jabari Blash from the Yankees for a player to be named later or cash considerations … The Rangers signed veteran right-hander Jesse Chavez to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … Mark Bowman of MLB.com confirms that Johan Camargo is expected to be the Braves’ regular third baseman this season … Brandon Guyer required an MRI on his surgically-repaired wrist after tweaking it in the outfield on Tuesday … The Pirates signed outfielder Michael Saunders to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training …