Suppose the Rays cannot make a deal. After all, players like Dan Johnson passed through waivers (twice) without any apparently worthwhile offers. There is no guarantee that either Gomes or Hinske would bring back anything right now, and I doubt the Rays want to go without a real shortstop reserve. I also like the idea of Gross the way Maddon is using him now.
I posted this suggestion on another site and wonder if anyone else sees any legitimacy to it.
"I doubt this will happen but it is what I would prefer. Replace Glover with Aybar.
Teams have increasingly specialized bullpen roles so that they need more relievers, going from 10-11-12 man staffs over the years. I dislike that trend as it limits offensive and defensive replacements and I think also limits the value of each individual pitcher.
As a matter of fact, it seems to me that Maddon is moving in the opposite direction, stretching his relievers. Part of Howell's value are his 3 inning stints, and Wheeler often goes 2. I think Reyes can as well, while even Miller does more than loogy work.
If Hammel (or as I suggest above, Niemann*) can be the righty complement to Howell, that would make the 12th man almost superfluous. At the same time, it would increase both offensive and defensive flexibility to have a bench of Zobrist, Aybar, Hinske, Gomes and Gross (in addition to Riggans)."
*Since returning to Durham, Niemann has had his pitch counts limited and has pitched 3, 3.1 & 4 innings. Although he always starts and is increasing his innings each game, it may be that his best chance is as a long reliever/spot starter. Perhaps it is still to early to relegate him there, but as I always hark back to Earl Weaver's practice, it could also be the least stressful way to introduce him into the majors without stereotyping him as a reliever.