Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings has been released from the club today. A once promising prospect, Jennings battled through injuries and appeared in only 94 games over the last two seasons, good for 334 plate appearances.
Capable as a center fielder, Jennings primarily played in left field during his time with the Rays, not much unlike the player he replaced in Carl Crawford, and although after his promotion then-manager Joe Maddon tried to label him as the “First Desmond Jennings” (as opposed to the second coming of Crawford), he failed to live up to those expectations.
After a rough go of it over the last two seasons, today he was granted his release by the Rays. Now he will have an opportunity to find a new home with another team, should one want his defensive abilities helping out for a stretch run.
As for reactions to the release in the media, beat writer Marc Topkin can hardly contain himself.
It’s hard to imagine interacting with these players on a daily basis for so many years and to not come away with respect for the athletes. Perhaps there are other ways, outside of injuries or related to his constant struggle and rehabilitation, that would lead to obvious disdain for a player like Jennings, but I can’t imagine it. At least not at a level that would lead me to write like this publicly.
Topkin characterizes quotes from players — such as Longoria calling the situation “unfortunate” — as obvious “frustrations” with Jennings... Actually that’s the only quote provided, but Topkin says the frustrations are shared by teammates. Perhaps we take him at his word.
The long time beat writer also says, “the Rays actually did him a slight favor by taking action now,” because as I mentioned above, Jennings has time to salvage his season. Topkin says this not as a means of wishing Jennings good fortune, though, but as a way of implying the Rays have treated him better than perhaps the player deserves, referencing his $6.4 million salary over the last two seasons.
Topkin also references a “lack of hustle” in his article, and points the finger at the TV broadcast for noticing the same, and wonders aloud “What took them [the Rays] so long?”
It certainly is frustrating that Jennings never lived up to his potential in Tampa Bay. But at least it’s not disrespectful.
Desmond Jennings ends his playing days in Tampa Bay with a career .245/.322/.393 slash, with a 103 wRC+, 20.5 K%, 9.3 BB%, 55 HR and 95 SB over 567 games (2351 PA).
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