Miller, LoMo look ahead after whirlwind trade
Rays' acquisitions surprised, but excited about opportunity
ST. PETERSBURG -- Logan Morrison and Brad Miller have been with the Rays only a couple of days, but each is looking forward to the opportunity -- even if they were a caught off guard by the timing of the trade.
"Definitely was [surprised]," Morrison said. "Not that I got traded, but it was kind of early. So the timing of it kind of surprised me a bit. I am excited for the new opportunity. I'm really disappointed at not being able to win more with Seattle.
"I really enjoyed my time there. I'm disappointed I'm not going there, but I'm really excited to be joining the Rays and looking forward to winning a lot of baseball games."
Miller called the timing of the trade "crazy" because he was on a plane when he got the news from his agent, and because the trade occurred so early in the offseason.
"I think things usually happen a little later in the offseason, but man, couldn't be happier," Miller said. "The timing, obviously, early. I think both teams knew what they wanted. I'm just excited."
Thursday night, the Rays acquired Miller, a shortstop, and Morrison, a slugging first baseman/outfielder, along with right-handed reliever Danny Farquhar, in exchange for right-hander Nathan Karns, left-hander C.J. Riefenhauser and Minor League outfielder Boog Powell.
Miller, 26, hit .258 with 11 home runs, 46 RBIs and 13 stolen bases in 144 games in 2015. He made starts at shortstop (83), center field (20), left field (9), DH (6), second base (5), third base (1) and right field (1). Only one other American League shortstop could match his combination of homers (11), stolen bases (13) and slugging percentage (.402): Houston's Carlos Correa.
Miller made it clear he wants to be the team's starting shortstop in 2016.
"No question, without a doubt," Miller said. "Obviously in this game you want to give yourself every opportunity and do whatever is asked of you. But yeah, I'm a shortstop.
"I know that's where I want to be on the field. I want to continue to get better there and to improve. But 100 percent, I would want to settle in and play shortstop. It's what I've always done."
Miller appreciates the opportunity he now has with the Rays.
"I think the two teams lined up well and after talking and being welcomed to the organization, they said, 'We view you as a shortstop, we're going to let you go out there and compete,'" Miller said. "That's all you can ask for. It was music to my years. It aligned exactly with what I feel is my place on the field and my abilities. I'm just excited, honestly, and really excited to get it going."
Morrison, 28, hit .225 with 17 home runs and 54 RBIs in a career-high 146 games in 2015, his first time appearing in at least 100 games since 2011. His home run and RBI totals were his most since he had 23 homers and 72 RBIs with the Marlins in 2011.
In his career, Morrison has made 284 starts at first base and 249 starts in the outfield.
The Rays struggled against right-handed pitching in 2015. This trade immediately fortified next season's lineup vs. right-handers.
Morrison hit .241 with 17 home runs and 45 RBIs in 315 at-bats against right-handers last season. Miller hit .266 with 11 home runs and 37 RBIs vs. right-handers in 2015.
Morrison hit just .190 with no home runs and nine RBIs in 142 at-bats against left-handers last season after hitting .333 with two home runs and 10 RBIs against left-handers in 2014, leading to the question of whether he feels he can turn that around if given the opportunity.
"I had an awful year against lefties last year," Morrison said. "But the year before I had a great year. Hit lefties better than I did righties. I don't think that it's something that is in my mind, where I'm a platoon player.
"I believe I can play every day at the big league level no matter who's on the bump. I feel like I'm going to make them remember. Make them not want to face me. Make them, I guess, fear me a bit."
In addition to being hopeful he'll get at-bats against left-handers, Morrison is hopeful he'll see more time in the field than at DH.
"As long as I'm in the lineup, I guess it doesn't really matter," Morrison said. "I want to play every day. But having said that, I believe I can contribute to the team more than just being a DH. I think that I'm a plus defender, to say the least, at first base and can play outfield if need be. I enjoy playing the field. I really enjoy playing first base and the outfield."
Morrison made $2.72 million in 2015 and enters his third year of arbitration eligibility. He can become a free agent after the 2016 season. Miller will be eligible for arbitration following the 2016 season.