Saturday, December 09, 2017
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Tampa Bay Rays hot topics: Joey Bats or Party at Napoli’s

   We don't know what moves the Rays will make this off-season, just that there will be some big ones as they look to cut payroll and decide whether to try to remain competitive or go for a rebuild. With the annual winter meetings next week at Disney, we are looking today at some of their hottest topics:

Much of the talk about the Rays off-season will be about what players they are going to get rid of, with closer Alex Colome seemingly most in demand – with the outfielder-heavy Cardinals among the teams – and several others likely to get talked about, from Jake Odorizzi and Corey Dickerson on the more likely to go side and Evan Longoria and Chris Archer on the other.

But at some point the Rays are going to add some players, and they won't all be young prospects form their farm system.

Two free agents who have been discussed at least internally are veteran sluggers with impressive resumes – Jose Bautista and Mike Napoli. Either could be an option at DH, or as part of a platoon at first base.

Bautista, 37, is coming off a rough season in Toronto in which he hit 23 homers, but totaled only 65 RBI while posting a .203 average and .674 OPS, striking out 170 times in 686 plate appearances. But – the one-time Devil Ray – would come cheap after the Blue Jays declined his $17-million option and could present as a low-risk gamble, say on an incentive-laden deal, to see if he still has some pop in that intimidating looking swing. Plus, he lives locally so there could be a de facto hometown discount – and wouldn't be any moving expenses. How he would fit in the clubhouse on a young and potentially rebuilding (read: losing) team is a fair question as a reputation as a negative clubhouse influence is well known.

Napoli, 36, is coming off a similarly disappointing season in Texas, hitting 29 homers, but totaling only 66 RBI while positing a .193 average and .713 OPS, striking out 163 times in 484 plate appearances. But he, too, would likely come cheap after the Rangers declined his $11-million option and could present as a low-risk gamble, say on an incentive-laden deal, to see if he still has some pop in that intimidating looking swing. Plus, he lives in south Florida so there could be a de facto home-state discount – and wouldn't be much moving expenses. How he would fit in the clubhouse on a young and potentially rebuilding (read: losing) team is no question as his reputation as a positive clubhouse influence is well known.

So, Joey Bats, or Party at Napoli's?

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