The Rays have a few holes to fill this offseason (see catcher and bullpen) but there may be something to consider if this offseason is another product of reduced prices thanks to the economy. These are the years the Rays need to excel in free agency. They can get talent for prices they couldn't even have touched a few years ago and soon enough will probably not be able to touch again. One such talent is Vladimir Guerrero.
Guerrero may be in the final stages of his career but his bat still has a few years left on it. Coming off an injury-shortened season, and in this economy and with his once good defense taken away by age, he's only going to be viewed as a DH, and is only going to make a portion of his previous year's salary. There already is a platform to go off of who is on his team: Bobby Abreu
Like Abreu, Guerrero has been a model of consistency, aiming for his 13th consecutive season of .300. 11 of his past 12 seasons he has had no fewer than 25 HRs (this injury-shortened season being the only season with less). This marks only the second time in 12 years he will end up with less than 500 AB. And in his entire career he's never reached the 100 strikeout plateau (highest was 95, but never more than 77 in last 8 years), an attractive feature to a team with a lot of swing and misses.
If the Rays could acquire him for Abreu-money (of 2008 not what he'll get this offseason), it's an option worth pursuing. The roadblock obviously is where does he fit in the Rays lineup. It would be nice if he could play in the outfield once in a while, but with the turf, that would appear likely.
The only scenario where this plays out is at DH. This would happen only if the Rays could trade Burrell. I may be completely wrong, but I wonder if it still is possible, provided the Rays pay a good portion of his salary. Would a team be willing to pick him up (without giving up anything of real value in return) if the Rays paid half his salary and kept Burrell's incoming cost to say, 4 million? I wonder if a team would view that as a buy-low opportunity.
If it were even possible to trade Burrell, the 4-5 mil of savings would come close to paying for Guerrero. In essence it wouldn't cost them any more than the overall cost of Burrell. But I'm guessing this still is just wishful thinking.
Either way, I wouldn't push it past Maddon to find a way to pair back up with Guerrero in St. Pete. If at that price, it is indeed worth considering.
Are there any others out there that might be 'good deals' in this economy, worth the Rays considering? Jermaine Dye is another who might fit that bill, although there are now questions as to how much he can still play in the field.