The sad reality of this shuffling roster game we play is sometimes you have to say good-bye to valuable pieces of the puzzle that have become expendable either because of their own salary or other cheaper viable options. Akinori Iwamura most likely will be one of those players. Gabe Gross is likely to be another.
For those of you who haven't noticed Gabe Gross is still an active member of the Rays roster. However, with Iwamura's return and Ben Zobrist's ability to play an above average right field, Gross has become the invisible man. Iwamura and Zobrist are part of the reason Gross has been riding the pine, but his play at the plate hasn't helped his case either.
Gross got off to a stellar start in 2009. In his first 165 plate appearances he hit .286/.394/.443. With that line and his defense, Gross was on his way to a 3 WAR season. Despite that good start, things have fallen apart for him. Over his last 152 plate appearances he is hitting just .180/.272/.286 and he's defense has suffered as well. While he is still a plus defender, a 6.4 UZR isn't as sparkling as the 11.8 he put up in 2008 especially with a recent batting line that rivals Dioner Navarro.
Gross will be arb2 eligible this off-season. Given the fact that he earned $1.255 million dollars this season, and his lack of production this year, Gross is a prime non tender candidate. This doesn't mean he isn't valuable. Average is still good except when it becomes expensive. He has given the Rays $3.8 million dollars of production in ‘09, but his value doesn't match the Rays salary structure. With Matt Joyce available and ready to take over at the same position with a similar, and better, set of skills for around 1/4 of the cost it's just smart business.