Could the Rays Use Alfredo Amezaga?

A multitude of posts have covered the oversaturated middle relief market and how the Rays could land an attractive player for a reasonable price. The middle infield market is in the same state of disarray. Players like Felipe Lopez and Orlando Hudson are sitting around, just waiting for a worthwhile deal; meanwhile lesser players like Adam Kennedy and Alfredo Amezaga are just hoping for Major League jobs. With that in mind, should the Rays be players for one of these second or third tier infielders?

If the season started tomorrow the Rays would have to decide between Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez as the reserve middle infielder. Brignac's lefty bat and ability to play shortstop intrigues, however he's still a future starter on this team and wasting service and developmental time on the end of the bench is less than ideal. Rodriguez could very well blossom into a starter as well, but in terms of which service clock you would rather start, it has to be him.

Rodriguez is a righty which means he should come in handy versus southpaws. The Rays figure to have some days where Crawford, Pena, and Joyce are given the days off in favor of Kapler, Aybar, and Rodriguez. He can play the outfield and infield alike, but the question is whether he's ready to contribute in the Majors or not.

If the Rays choose to minimize risk instead of maximizing potential, then someone like Amezaga makes a lot of sense. He's an outstanding defender up the middle and a switch hitter - albeit not much of one. Over the last three years he's played mostly against lefties and has an OPS hovering above .690. Most of his value is derived from his leather and flexibility.  Worth noting is that Amezaga and Joe Maddon were together on some early 2000s Angels squads.

Either way, the Rays bench will feature Navarro (back-up catcher), Kapler (back-up outfielder at all three spots), and Aybar (first and third base back-up). The main difference between Rodriguez and Amezaga is the ability to play shortstop. Rodriguez can probably fake the position for a game at a time and if Jason Bartlett is injured, then Brignac can be up from Durham within 24 hours. Essentially it comes down to - at most - ~ten games worth of shortstop which is such a marginal difference that it's not worth our time.

Offensively, CHONE projects Rodriguez at a .338 wOBA while ZiPS is closer to .315. Call it .325 for argument's sake. Amezaga's projections have him closer to .295. Over, say, 250 plate appearances, that's a six and a half run difference. Unless you think Amezaga is the most dynamic defender in baseball, Rodriguez is awful, or one of the above, odds are Rodriguez is the better choice.

That doesn't change the fact that Amezaga could come cheap and be useful, but at this point anything more than a minor league deal doesn't seem to make much sense.

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