Why I'd Be Fine If The Rays Didn't Acquire A Young Hitter This Offseason

With Rizzo now off the market, I'm starting to think that the Rays odds of acquiring a young, major-league-ready hitter in a trade are slim to none. Heck, it's entirely possible that the odds were never that high to begin with, especially when you're shopping Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann during an offseason where there are numerous better starters available via trade (e.g. Mat Latos, Matt Garza, Wandy Rodriguez, Roy Oswalt, etc.).

That's not to say that Friedman won't still get something done; I'm just saying that I'll be pleasantly surprised if something does develop. The targets we've tossed out there in recent weeks are all exciting and fun -- Mark Trumbo, Kendrys Morales, and Lucas Duda among others -- but there are some large obstacles in acquiring almost every one of these players. As I mentioned in a thread yesterday, feel free to poke around in the Triple-A leaderboards (OF, 1B) for someone we're overlooking, but I'm finding it tough to find a hitter that's on the market (or could be) that would be a good acquisition for Davis/Niems.

But actually...wait. What if the Rays could somehow get their hands on these two hitters? Both were 25 years old last season, and both spent the year in Triple-A.

Player A: 12% walk rate, 23.5% strikeout rate, .215 ISO, .410 wOBA, 157 wRC+ (best in Triple-A)
PlayerB: 7.9% walk rate, 17.8% strikeout rate, .200 ISO, .400 wOBA, 150 wRC+ (fourth best in Triple-A)

Attractive, no? It just so happens both these hitters are already in the Rays organization.

Most of you have probably guessed already, but Player A is Russ Canzler and Player B is Brandon Guyer. From all reports, Guyer is also a strong defensive corner outfielder (and he can moonlight in center), which probably makes him a better defensive outfielder than Matt Joyce. I love Joyce, but there were times last season where he looked downright awkward out in right.

Meanwhile, Canzler played all around the diamond last season: third, first, and left and right field. While he's never been thought of as much of a prospect, this was the second straight year in a row that Canzler has posted a wRC+ above 150 (in 2010, he had a 151 wRC+ in Double-A with the Cubs).

If nothing else develops, the Rays could decide to enter the season with Joyce, Canzler, and Guyer splitting time between first base and right field. This would provide the Rays with alllll sort of flexibility; Guyer could fill in anywhere in the outfield, and Canzler could also fill in for Longoria if he ever needed a day off or got injured (knock-on-wood).

I'm not sure how the Rays feel about Canzler, and it's possible he starts the season in Triple-A again. But I certainly wouldn't mind seeing the Rays start the season with Canzler and Guyer on the team, even if that means the Rays don't acquire a "First Baseman of the Future". Both players deserve a chance to see what they can do in the majors, and I wouldn't be surprised to see either (or both) of them turn into a valuable contributor to the Rays for multiple years to come.

#FreeBrandonGuyer! #FreeRussCanzler! It's about time these guys got some love.

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