The Rays have long had to be creative to contend in a competitive AL East, and this winter has proven no different.
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After signing catcher Wilson Ramos early in the offseason, the club sat quietly by for weeks before dealing Drew Smyly to the Mariners for Mallex Smith and others, and then last week trading Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers for Jose De Leon.
The reshuffling didn't end there. With second base now open, the Rays' primary plan is to move Brad Miller to the keystone, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Miller, who made the move to first base last season, is no stranger to second, where he started 18 games from 2013 to 2015.
The Rays have a few options to fill first base, if desired to do so externally. Perhaps the best free agent option remaining is also one they've been linked to in recent days, Chris Carter. Jon Morosi of MLB Network said Friday that the team is interested in the 30-year-old, who hit 41 homers this past season.
Other options include fellow free agents Mike Napoli and Mark Reynolds, and Topkin lists C.J. Cron and Billy Butler as possible trade targets. With a glut of outfielders and a pitching staff that could still stand to lose an arm, more trades could be in the offing before Opening Day.
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One of the creative avenues the Rays could go down is Matt Wieters.
Wieters remains a free agent as the calendar is set to turn to February, and the list of suitors -- which is in itself unconventional, given how late in the proceedings we are -- could include the Rays, per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. That list could also include the Astros, Cafardo says.
On Friday, it was speculated that the Brewers had "emerged as a potential suitor" for Wieters, according to Tommy Stokke of FanRag Sports. The team doesn't have designs on contending in 2017 and has been stockpiling cheap options post-dish -- currently rostered are Jett Bandy, Andrew Susac and Manny Pina -- but getting Wieters on the cheap could prove to be an attractive option as well.
The Nationals have been the most widely-rumored destination for Wieters since the beginning, and much has been written about their interest or lack thereof in the 30-year-old. The Angels and possibly still the Braves, despite their recent signing of Kurt Suzuki, are also realistic landing spots for Wieters at this stage.
Moss Heads Across State
At one stage this past summer, there was thinking around St. Louis that Brandon Moss could command a five-year deal worth roughly $80 million this offseason.
Moss instead agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal with the Royals on Sunday, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Moss will likely find time in right field and as a left-handed hitting DH with the Royals.
The stark difference between those midsummer projections and his late winter reality highlight the ups and downs of 2016 for Moss.
On August 26, Moss was hitting .270/.344/.586 with 25 homers and 60 RBI, the kind of power hitter that commands multi-year deals with high average annual values on the open market. But a poorly timed slump reminded executives of Moss' less attractive attributes and likely cost him millions of dollars -- from August 27 on, Moss hit .094/.169/.189 while striking out 38 times in 118 plate appearances.
Moss will look to prove with the Royals that he's more the player he was in the first five months and less the hitter of the season's final month.
Quick Hits: Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports speculates that the Twins could be a mystery team in the hunt for free agent slugger Mike Napoli. Twins' general manager Thad Levine announced Friday that the club was looking to add some veteran leadership through free agency, and Napoli is certainly that ... in the same vein, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, there is mutual interest in a possible reunion between Justin Morneau and the Twins ... White Sox GM Rick Hahn said some scouts see Yoan Moncada eventually moving to center field. If he can handle the position, it would certainly be more valuable to the White Sox in the long haul ... Nationals signed RHP Vance Worley to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. He'll likely be competing for a long relief role in spring ... Braves signed RHP Kris Medlen to a minor league contract. Surprisingly, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says Medlen did not receive an invitation to spring training.