For the last two seasons Logan Forsythe has been the starting second baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays. Last night the Rays sent Forsythe to the Dodgers in a deal they determined was too good to pass up. As a result the Rays are now looking for their new second baseman.
According to Rays Radio Blog:
Neander says the organization will use the next couple of weeks for clarity in determining the team’s second base situation, looking at internal and external options. Among the internal options are Tim Beckham, Nick Franklin and Daniel Robertson, or Brad Miller, if the team is to acquire one of the available free agent bats still available that plays first base.
Forsythe was a great player for the Rays over the past two years, but if the Rays were equipped to handle losing a player of his caliber it would probably be at second base. Before the trade it appeared that Tim Beckham and Nick Franklin would start the season on the bench, but now both are likely to be on track for playing time.
Nick Franklin was the man who was expecting to get the bulk of the playing time in a platoon with Forsythe at second base heading into the 2015 season. During the last week of spring training, however, Franklin strained his oblique and started the season on the disabled list. Forsythe hit the ground running, Franklin never quite got on track, and as a result Frosty became an everyday stalwart at that position.
Nick Franklin, who turns 26 in March, once more looks like he has dibs on the second base job against right handed pitching. Last year he hit .285/.347/.482 and 125 wRC+ in 152 plate appearances against right handed pitchers. His promising rookie season as the second baseman for the Seattle Mariners in 2013 suggests this success is not a fluke.
Tim Beckham was expected to get most of his at bats against left handed pitching. He’s hit .259/.302/.457 and 105 wRC+ in 216 plate appearances against southpaws. Beckham is the stronger defender.
In this regard nothing has changed outside of having a consistent position against left handed pitching. I think the trade has the least impact on Beckham’s role on the 2017 team.
For the Rays to consider Daniel Robertson an option from opening day would go counter to their usual promotional timeline for a prospect.
Robertson was the main return when the Rays dealt Ben Zobrist to the Oakland Athletics in January 2015, and was the Rays second ranked Baseball America prospect heading into the 2015 season behind only Steven Souza Jr. Robertson ranked #66 in the 2015 Baseball America Top 100.
In June 2015, however, he broke his hamate bone getting hit by a pitch. Robertson attended the Brandon Guyer School For Getting Hit By A Pitch as he has been struck by 42 pitches in 1,689 plate appearances over his last three minor league seasons. It’s helped his OBP, but comes with the downside risk of additional injury risk.
After breaking your hamate bone it typically takes about a year for power to return, and that is reflected in his performance. To get back on track he worked with newly promoted hitting coach Chad Mottola, and in his final 163 plate appearances of the season he hit a much improved .287/.426/.434 and 155 wRC+. The big breakout was a return of power with a .147 ISO compared to .075 during the first 3.5 months of the season. His possesses more doubles than homer power, but I think 12-15 homer power at peak is a reasonable expectation if given a full season of plate appearances.
If the Rays so chose they could go with Brad Miller at second. As a player athletic enough to play shortstop, second base shouldn’t be a real problem.
If this were the plan, the Rays would need to use some of the money saved in the Forsythe and Smyly deals to address what now seems to be the gaping hole in the lineup against left handed pitching. The most economical way to bring a bat that could impact the game against lefties is to sign one of the remaining right handed first baseman such as Mike Napoli or Chris Carter.
If the Rays go this route they can look to replace most of Forsythe’s bat while improving second base defense with Miller, a more athletic player, moving to second.
He won’t be on the opening day roster, but one has to believe that the Rays top prospect Willy Adames has played a massive role in the Rays willingness to move Forsythe. The prospect received in the David Price trade with the Tigers is the reason they are comfortable making this move even if they won’t come out and say it.
Adames hit .274/.372/.430 and 134 wRC+ while tearing up the Southern League for the Rays AA affiliate Montgomery Biscuits in his 20 year old season.
The Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics speaks fondly of Adames. It isn’t just the on field production, but the belief in his makeup and leadership abilities.
His attitude, his aptitude, his work ethic — all the intangibles make Willy Adames stand out along with his skill.
The Rays have typically been slow to promote players to the major leagues, but Adames isn’t your typical 21 year old prospect. He has a full season of experience at AA and we all know they are going to get extra year of control while trying to avoid Super 2 status for their elite prospects. Adames will force the issue this summer and make the Rays promote him come June or July. The alternative would be keeping him in Durham for almost a year and a half and I don’t see that happening.
This trade is about opening a position for him on the team, whether it be shortstop with Matt Duffy moving over to second base, or him filling second base himself.
That may be a lot of pressure to put on the young man, but the Rays organization has shown great faith in his ability and makeup by making this move now. It would be unreasonable to expect him to come out of the gate as fellow shortstop prospects Carlos Correa or Corey Seager have over the past couple of seasons.
The Rays are putting all their eggs in the Adames basket to be the player they believe he can be to help lead this team back to playoff contention on a yearly basis for the the next five years or hopefully more if they are able to sign him to an extension early into his career.