While we wait on the Rays to fill out the roster, let’s look at two players whose short- and long-term roles with the team could be impacted by the moves: Brandon Guyer and Josh Lueke.
Guyer started the 2012 in hot water for his involvement in the Matt Bush arrest. Those off-the-field concerns seemed to wreck Guyer’s on-the-field production in the early goings. He rebounded and joined the big-league team in May, yet tore his labrum three games later. The injury required season-ending surgery, costing Guyer an opportunity to impress and the Rays a year of team control (since he spent the year on the big-league disabled list).
While Guyer does have supporters, including some in other organizations, who believe he could become a regular, the addition of Wil Myers addition likely limits his role ceiling to tat of a fourth outfielder. The soon-to-be 27-year-old boasts a tantalizing power and speed blend as well as enough bat-to-ball skills to make up for a questionable plate approach. Guyer’s tendency to swing and expand his zone has led to much weak contact during his big-league stints:
Although it’s tough to envision Guyer’s approach evolving to Matt Joyce-like levels, it’s not hard to imagine a world where Guyer boasts a decent average, double-digit homers, double-digit steals, and a good defensive reputation in a corner. Still, Guyer’s chances of breaking onto the roster seem slim due to his health. Without the injury, the Rays could have added an outfielder on a minor-league deal to serve as a safety net between Guyer and Myers. As is, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see another outfielder added on a big-league deal while Guyer and Myers to start the season in Durham.
Lueke is caught in a similar predicament. His 2012 season, like Guyer’s, leaves him as an unreliable option. Yet whereas Guyer’s questions stem from injury, Lueke’s problem is the unknown. Despite strong strikeout and strikeout-to-walk ratios in Durham last season, Lueke posted a hit rate that belies his stuff’s quality. While the cause of the woes is unknown, Lueke’s change in rubber positioning is worth noting:
It shouldn’t surprise anyone if Lueke—blessed with a mid-90s fastball, trapdoor splitter, and breaking ball—winds up in the Rays bullpen this season. As it stands now, the Rays figure to take advantage of a buyers’ market for right-handed relievers, adding to their current collection of Fernando Rodney, Joel Peralta, and possibly Roberto Hernandez. With Jake McGee and Cesar Ramos guaranteed spots, that leaves two or three spots at most.
Given the fickle nature of reliever stocks, this could be a make-or-break season for Lueke.
Data and visualizations courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information