For the second season in a row, the Rays depth chart has been depleted. This year, however, it’s outfielders who are in short supply.
Let’s take a look at the Rays depth chart in a visual way, showing the three outfielders and utility man role (aka the emergency outfielder), and crossing out those injured and no longer taking the field.
Across: LF - CF - RF - UTIL
The Rays are already on their third line of defense in the outfield. After Mikie Mahtook came Jaff Decker, he of the long hair in Durham’s center field, to fill the bench outfield role, but with Mahtook’s broken left hand, it’s time for the next man up to take the fourth OF slot.
The top candidate in the outfield is then Dayron Varona, the Cuban-born Rays prospect who gained such notoriety this Spring when he took the field in the Havana exhibition. He has a cannon for an arm, but at age 28 is hitting a mere .313 wOBA and 96 wRC+ in Durham. That doesn’t translate well to major league pitching.
Unfortunately for the Rays, the option currently on the depth chart in left field is no better. That face you don’t recognize in the bottom left is Jake Goebbert, who made his major league debut last season at age 28 with the Padres, where he hit for a 79 wRC+ in 115 plate appearances.
This season in Durham, Goebbert is coincidentally hitting a 79 wRC+, which doesn’t inspire much confidence in his ability to handle promotion at this time.
And if the Rays were to move Taylor Motter over into the outfield depth, that still leaves a more significant hole on the bench/in the infield rotation, as Steve Pearce was also injured in last night’s game.
So let’s go one level further on the depth chart.
The Rays only have one outfielder left in Durham not mentioned above, and that’s the recently promoted Johnny Field in center.
The next man up in right field would be Richie Shaffer, the 1B/3B who got his first cup of coffee last season. He’s not a true outfielder, and he's in the middle of a power outage so he should continue to get every day reps in Triple-A.
And then there’s Nick Franklin.
Of course, there’s also the mystery box in left field... any guesses?
I’ll give you a moment.
Oh, you know who it’s going to be!
I couldn’t believe it yesterday, but now?
Read More: The Case for a Carl Crawford Reunion!