The Winter Meetings are coming up and the Rays are in need of major moves to improve the offense to be able to compete in the AL East in 2013 with the Yankees who are sure to reload, the O's who are sure to be competitive again and the newly stocked Jays.
Longo swings for the the fences.
Longo swings for the the fences.
The Rays can't afford to go excruciatingly cheap on offense again this year. If they do, the Rays will again be watching October from home. Pitching is nice, but you need offense to make it worth anything. So here are a few options I like for the Rays.
Justin Upton — Justin has made himself known the past few years in Arizona as a power hitter, when healthy. With him coming off an injury ridden season, he'll be looking to re-prove himself. The problem getting him is not only money, but getting together the right package that will get Arizona to move him without costing the Rays too much in terms of talent. He could also possibly move to center to fill the space left by his brother.
Mike Napoli — This is one of the best catchers the past few years, but with nagging injuries, his catching days could be behind him and will likely need to prove himself at another position, possibly first base or DH. So this is where the Rays could swoop in and sign it to a fairly cheap 1 year deal while he proves that he can play at another position and benefit in the process.
Josh Hamilton — Now this one is a little out there, but the Rays could possible go after Josh and bring him back to where his pro career started (even if he didn't debut here) for a couple of years at around $13M per season and form a deadly duo with Longo. He would also fill the space left empty by BJ. This one is a long shot as the Braves are the favorites to get him.
Raul Ibanez — Not a consistent power hitter, but he is a consistent RBI guy and hit-getting guy in crucial, clutch situations as shown with the Yankees last year. But at age 40, I think it's unlikely he signs anywhere with a huge contract. I think if the Rays could get him for the right price, he'd be a nice fit at DH, providing the Rays find another power hitter for like first base or something.
Kevin Youkilis — The guy has had a few down years for various reasons, ranging from nagging injuries to nagging managers (Looking at you Bobby V.) So Youkilis will be looking to prove he's still worth something. He has nice power when healthy however he, like Pena, is strikeout prone. He struck out 69 times in 80 games with the White Sox last year. But the guy finished in the top 6 for MVP voting twice and is a three time All-Star with a Gold Glove. He would be looking to return to his 2008 form where he hit nearly 30 HRs. Since he will be looking to prove himself, he could go for cheap on a 1 or 2 year deal. Yeah, he's naturally a third basemen, but he's also proven he can play first.
Nick Swisher — Nick is not looking to prove himself and thus is a long shot to land anywhere but back with the Yankees but I'm still throwing him in. The guy can hit roughly 25 to 30 HRs in a season and is a career average .250 hitter and is clutch. He's also an amazing outfielder, not to mention a quirky personality and thus would no doubt fit in well in Tampa Bay with our quirky bunch. The problem is price, as he's consistenly good and not looking to prove himself, he'll likely be looking for a multi year deal which the Rays don't like to hand out very often. But I don't think it's impossible. The Rays could possibly give out a 2-year deal worth $14M to $16M to get the 31 year old (who will be 32 by the time Spring Training rolls around).
These are just a few options I see. They're fairly cheap and by historically proven guys that are either looking to continue being themselves or re-establish their selves as viable baseball players. Personally, of the six mentioned, I like Nick the best. But do you think the next Rays player is in this list?