Based on the lack of available right-handed bats out there, what is the possibility of killing two birds with one stone by signing Matt Wieters? He can give the Rays a reliable veteran catcher who can work with our pitching staff. He also gives us a right-handed bat with some
Based on the lack of available right-handed bats out there, what is the possibility of killing two birds with one stone by signing Matt Wieters? He can give the Rays a reliable veteran catcher who can work with our pitching staff. He also gives us a right-handed bat with some better than average power, and he can help with the influx of youth within the middle infield that is undoubtedly going to be a big part of this season.
-- TW, Brooksville, Fla.
I agree with you, the switch-hitting Wieters would be a nice fit with Wilson Ramos out for the early part of the season as he recovers from knee surgery. And once Ramos returns, Wieters could catch, DH and play first base. I'm sure the Rays feel that Wieters would be a perfect fit, too. This one should come down to money, obviously, and the chances of Wieters signing a discounted one-year deal with Tampa Bay appears to be more likely with the passing of time. In the free-agent game of musical chairs, you never know what will happen once the music stops and a quality player of Wieters' stature doesn't have a seat.
• Justice: Wieters could be quite a catch
Will the Rays stop trading away players who can play and start concentrating on putting a team on the field that can win?
-- Lori F., Clearwater, Fla.
I totally understand fans getting upset when their favorite players are traded. They enjoy watching that player and grow an attachment to him. But remember, this isn't anything new for the Rays. They have always operated in this fashion and have put together some successful seasons doing so. Lost in all the heartache about losing this player or that player is the history of how that player initially became a Ray. Players like Benjamin Zobrist, William Myers, John Forsythe, etc., all came to the team in deals that sent big-name players elsewhere.
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Should the Rays trade for Scooter Gennett? He seems to be a handy player who seems like he won't start at second base for the Brewers.
-- Alastair J., Cairns, Australia
Well, the Brewers appear to be moving shortstop Jonathan Villar to second to make room for Orlando Arcia at shortstop, so why not throw Gennett into the mix as a trade option for the Rays? He'll make $2.525 million this season after hitting .263 with 14 home runs and 56 RBIs for Milwaukee last season.
Any chance Casey Gillaspie ends up being the Rays' everyday first baseman this year? Any other Minor League players you see having a big impact this year?
-- Tony C., Toronto
Sure, there's a chance Gillaspie could be at first for the Rays this season, but I don't believe that prospect will come together in Spring Training. He has only 47 games under his belt at the Triple-A level, so it's likely he'll season a little more at Durham before coming up to Tampa Bay. But Gillaspie does have the power potential to help at the Major League level. In three Minor League seasons since getting drafted in the first round of the 2014 Draft, he has 42 home runs with 154 RBIs and a .462 slugging percentage. As for other Minor League players who might make an impact, I'll put Daniel Robertson at the top of the list. I think he has an excellent chance of being with the club when Spring Training concludes.
When do you see the Rays bringing up their best pitching prospect, Brent Honeywell? Will he just be another backup for when one of our starters get hurt?
-- Jack M., Sarasota, Fla.
Honeywell went 7-3 with a 2.34 ERA in 20 starts between Class A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery last season, and he appears to be on the fast track, just as Blake Snell was a year earlier. According to Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics, "Honeywell has been amazingly consistent. ... His ability to repeat his delivery was in his favor from Day 1. And when you have a good delivery like he does, and it's repeatable, you can count on consistent, quality strikes. And that's what he brings." While the Rays are high on Honeywell, I would expect the 21-year-old right-hander to spend some time at Triple-A Durham before coming to the Majors. However, once he arrives, I expect him to slide right into Tampa Bay's rotation.
Who will become the team's leadoff hitter after Forsythe was traded? There isn't a stereotypical leadoff guy on the roster at the moment, so manager Kevin Cash will probably have to get creative, but is there any early indication of who it may be?
-- Josh W.
Kevin Kiermaier appears to be the leader in the clubhouse for the leadoff spot. At times, he filled that role nicely in 2016, giving the Rays a speedy player who could pressure the defense right out of the box. I'd be surprised if Kiermaier is not the guy.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.