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Rays Roster Review: Back-up Players

Any one of these guys could be the hero.

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MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

It takes all sorts in the playoffs.

So if you don’t already know the Rays roster inside and out, we don’t mind. Let’s catch up.

We’ve already run through the key everyday starters, and the platoon players.

The Backups

As of this writing we don’t know who will be on the Wild Card roster. But a few of these players are likely to make an appearance.

Jesus Aguilar - 369 PA, .236/.325/.389, 88 wRC+, -0.1

Acquired midseason in the Jake Faria trade, Aguilar is a big righty whose power hasn’t shown up in 2019. He can still work a good at bat, though, and there’s little reason to believe the power is gone for good. He’ll likely be a bigger part of the 2020 Rays.

The nice thing for 2019, though, is that he’s shown an aptitude for pinch hitting. He’ll be a situational option off the bench even in games he doesn’t start

Mike Zunino - 289 PA, .161/.232/.312, 45 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR

Zunino can defend behind the plate. Nobody doubts that. He’s a great pitch framer, a good gamecaller, he blocks well, and he can throw. That’s all real, and it’s very valuable. The question is his bat.

Before the season, there was reason to be hopeful. Early in the season, he showed a new approach. Then he got injured, the Rays went out and got d’Arnaud, and the rest is history. For now he’s an excellent defensive backup.

Guillermo Heredia - 231 PA, .225/.306/.363, 82 wRC+, 0.3 fWAR

Tampa Bay Rays v Texas Rangers Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

It’s Heredia’s job to hit lefties (which he’s done really well, to the tune of a 114 wRC+ this season), and to back up all three spots in the Rays outfield. There is some debate over whether Heredia is a good center fielder (he gets some really nice jumps) or a bad one (he’s always rated below average by DRS and UZR in center field). But there’s no question that Heredia is a center fielder.

Nate Lowe - 169 PA, .263/.325/.454, 108 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR

Lowe burst onto prospect radars in 2018, when power suddenly appeared at A+, and then stayed with him in the upper minors. He has a decent command of the strikezone, and a major league swing. He’s a big man. He can run into one.

Mostly a first baseman/designated hitter, Lowe played one major league game at third base. The ball did not find him.

Daniel Robertson - 237 PA, .213/.312/.295, 71 wRC+, -0.3 fWAR

Robertson was one of the Rays best players in 2018, with a potent bat (128 wRC+), and the ability to play any position on the infield. His follow up season went sideways, as he was always injured, felt the pressure, and lost his love for baseball.

Josh Tolentino at the Athletic ($) wrote about how Duffy and Tyler Glasnow helped him get his mind right, and how after a surgery, his knee is right again. Playing time has been hard to come by down the stretch, but his defense has been solid of late. Like Wendle, he’s able to back up Adames at shortstop.

Mike Brosseau - 142 PA, .273/.319/.462, 108 wRC+, 0.7 fWAR

Brosseau was an undrafted free agent who’s already beaten the odds by making it to the bigs. He was there when the Rays were wracked with injuries and needed an infielder, and he had a great debut, getting a hit in seven of his first eight games.

The exit velocity readings have not backed up his offensive success, so regard his stats with a little skepticism. While he can play all over the diamond, at no position is he above average. His speed and base running are legit, but with the Rays getting healthy and rosters shrinking down to playoff size, he’s unlikely to play a role in October

Michael Perez - 55 PA, .217/.345/.326, 91 wRC+, 0.1 fWAR

Perez was supposed to be the backup catcher this year, and he did absolutely nothing to lose the job. He’s a decent receiver, and has flashed a quick bat. But he got hurt (along with all the other Rays catchers, and there were a lot of them), the Rays acquired Travis d’Arnaud, and he was pushed off the major league team and into Durham, for depth.

He’ll get another chance to make an impact in 2020.

Johnny Davis - 4 PA, .250/.250/.750, 144 wRC+, 0.0 fWAR

Johnny Davis is here to run. He has one major league hit. It was a triple. Let’s go.