On August 1 the Rays acquired Jose Siri, a center fielder hailing from the Dominican Republic. The 27 year old was part of a three team trade that sent Rays pitching prospect Seth Johnson to the Orioles, and pitching prospect Jayden Murray to the Astros. The DFA of fan-favorite Brett Phillips was also part of this flurry of trade deadline deals. Siri arrived in Tampa to fill a big hole that Kevin Kiermaier left this season, but is he really the answer? Let’s consider a few scenarios.
PLAN A (Siri franchise CF )
The game plan for Erik Neander and Peter Bendix is to find a new “KK” a guy that can cover the outfield at an elite level, and they believe they found their guy. Siri ranks 98th percentile in OAA, and 96th in outfielder jump. He has already made some highlight reel plays that electrify the crowd.
It didn’t take long for Jose Siri to produce his first Rays highlight. What a catch, beautiful gliding range to cover the ground and save run(s)— Darby Robinson (@darby_robinson) August 3, 2022
The defense is clearly there, but can Siri hit? He’s been an excellent hitter in the minors; in 2021 in 94 games he slashed .318/.369/.609 with 16 HR, and an above average wOBA of .385. This has not yet translated to the majors where, so far in 2022, he is hitting .189/.244/.300 with a 56 wRC+. Raw power has been part of his game in the minors; now he needs to translate it to the majors.
#Rays have acquired OF Jose Siri from HOU. He is one of the fastest players and one of the best OF defenders in the sport. Big power at the plate as well but whiff and chase rates are poor. Career 81 wRC+ in 69 MLB games. .314/.365/.589 (130 wRC+) in his last 475 PAs at AAA pic.twitter.com/GLYkKAOyaS— Rays Metrics (@RaysMetrics) August 1, 2022
Speed is a tool that helps Siri on both offense and defense. Watching him run the bases is as fun as it gets. He ranks 3rd in sprint speed with 30.3 FT per second.
Siri has 6 years of control, and he is a cheap option for the future. The coaching staff and front office seem to be all in with the experiment. The risk is there, but I will take the odds every day of the week.
PLAN B Lowe/Margot/ rotate Brujan
The Rays always have a plan B, and if the Siri experiment doesn’t turn out well the Rays still have three forty man rosters guys who can play (or at least fake it) in centerfield: Margot, Lowe, and Brujan. Margot has signed an extension that will keep him with the team for several years, and Lowe and Brujan are younger players who could fill in as well. Lowe and Brujan could also in theory be platooned. Lowe has been excellent against RHP in the majors slashing .259/.318/.417 with a 114 wRC+. Brujan overall has struggled in the majors, however one of his bright spots was hitting against LHP; he put together a respectable line of .234/.333/.426 with 2 HR in 29 games.
At the end plan B doesn’t sound awful. All three players are young, talented, and can handle multiple positions. That’s why if Plan A works Brujan, Margot, and Lowe could still be key pieces. Nonetheless the Rays love Jose Siri, the coaching staff adore what he brings to the clubhouse.
And of course, I’ve heard a guy named Kevin Kiermaier will be a free agent next year, wonder what it would cost to sign him?