The Rays made a stunning splash in free agency as they have reportedly signed veteran catcher, Wilson Ramos.
Stunning news has broken tonight as reports are ringing in that the Tampa Bay Rays are close to signing catcher, Wilson Ramos to a two year deal that would give him up to $18.25M over two years and a guaranteed $12.5M.
The Rays stated their primary goal this off-season would be to address their catching situation and by adding Ramos they have certainly done that. Ramos, 29, had the best year of his career in 2016 and seemed primed to be one of the most sought after players on the market, however, a late season injury derailed those plans as Ramos now has to settle for a lesser deal with the Rays in hopes of rebuilding his value.
Over his career, seven years, Ramos has slashed .269/.313/.430 with 83 HR, 22 of those came in 2016. He has also accrued 10.3 fWAR, again with 3.5 of that coming this past season with the Nationals.
Ramos’s injury was a torn ACL that required surgery to his knee so he is still rehabbing and probably won’t be ready to return until June, meaning the Rays still will have to go with their current tandem of Curt Casali and Luke Maile until that time. Also, with his signing, that brings the Rays 40-man roster back to being full.
2016-12-06T14:55:18-05:00All day yesterday it seemed that it was inevitable that Chris Sale would leaving the American League heading to the Washington Nationals. Nevermind that, rumors began to swirl that the Boston Red Sox were attempting to make a run as the White Sox ace. Turns out those attempts came to fruition this afternoon as it was reported this afternoon that the Boston Red Sox acquired Chris Sale from the Chicago White Sox for Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe, and Victor Diaz (four prospects who had been ranked in the top 30 of the Red Sox system, with Moncada being number one). The Rays reaction: Won't print the word, but reaction of one #Rays person to #RedSox getting Sale had four letters and started with f ....— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) December 6, 2016 The Rays could very well be that mystery team. Earlier today, Marc Topkin reported that the Pirates were interested in adding Jake Odrozzi so there’s a path to a trade to be made if prospects alone aren’t enough for the Pirates to pull off a deal for a valuable starting pitcher. But why would the Rays want or need to add Andrew McCutchen? The Tampa Bay outfield situation is currently Corey Dickerson, Kevin Kiermaier, and Steven Souza Jr, with Mikie Mahtook filling in as the fourth outfielder. In a world with McCutchen in the fold, more than likely, McCutchen would take one of the corner outfield spots, allowing Souza or Dickerson to take time off the field and fill in at DH, a current need for the Rays. Although McCutchen’s defensive metrics were awful in 2016, this may have been due to him playing center field every day, or even the way the Pirates had him positioned in the outfield. Then again, it may also have been connected to injuries for the former MVP candidate. But the Rays are positioned well enough to take a gamble on McCutchen. With Kevin Kiermaier in center field, should McCutchen’s defense decline be a reality, it would be partially shielded by KK’s historically amazing glove. The main proponent for acquiring McCutchen would be his bat, who still put up 106 wRC+ despite having an off year at the plate, higher than both Souza and Dickerson. Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports In 2016, McCutchen posted the worst numbers to date, but heading into the year he had averaged .298/.388/.496 over the first seven seasons of his career, but then he slashed .256/.336/.430 with 24 HR. A strong showing overall, but not his former superstar level. There are other restrictions. McCutchen will earn $14M in 2017 and then $14.75M in 2018, becoming a free agent following that season. His contract is pricey in the eyes of the Rays, whose highest paid player is Evan Longoria, who will earn $13M in 2017. And it’s worth mentioning again, the Pirates are seeking a hefty price, as they reportedly were seeking a top of the line outfield prospect from the Nationals, Victor Robles. For any deal with McCutchen to make financial sense, the Rays would have to deal one of their starting pitchers, and as mentioned before, the Pirates are interested in Jake Odorizzi, who is projected to make just under $5M through arbitration. But now is an interesting time to buy low on a possible All-Star outfielder, should the Rays believe in his health and overall ability to rebound in 2017. [...]
Looking back at some of the great moments in Tampa Bay Rays history
On September 20th, 2008 the seemingly impossible had happened as the forever lowly Tampa Bay Rays had turned one of the worst runs in baseball history into the playoffs as they clinched a post-season berth with a victory over the Minnesota Twins.
The Rays entered play with a game and a half lead over the Boston Red Sox in the division, and a record of 91-61 with 10 games left on the schedule.
The Rays sent their franchise ace to the hill in Scott Kazmir and he went to the rubber against Kevin Slowey. Tampa Bay quickly built a lead against Slowey and the Twins bullpen, while Kazmir and the Rays bullpen held the Twins scoreless for eight innings. Once the ninth inning rolled around, the Rays had a 7-0 advantage.
Thanks to some defensive miscues, Troy Percival allowed two runs to the Twins forcing Joe Maddon to bring in Trevor Miller to face Joe Mauer with two outs. With a 3-1 count, Miller got Mauer out in front, popping a ball up down the left field line in foul territory. The eventual Rookie of the Year, Evan Longoria, ranged back and made the catch, igniting a raucous celebration as the Rays were heading to the American League Division Series.
Clothing apparel company Under Armour will supplant Tampa-based Majestic as the uniform designer for Major League Baseball, beginning in 2020, as well as Nike, who have partnerships for other licensed apparel worn on the field and in batting practice.
To date, Under Armour had only been involved with collegiate sports for the jersey designs. Their shoes are currently worn by several athletes in MLB.
The deal partners with Jacksonville-based apparel manufacturer and distributor Fanatics in a three-organization model for the fan-component. New Era’s contract to make MLB hats expires after 2019, and a new deal has not yet been reached.
According to Darren Rovell at ESPN, this deal is another byproduct of the great MLBAM:
The deal was the brainchild of Bob Bowman, the mastermind behind the league's MLB Advanced Media arm who became president of business and media for the league two years ago. Bowman's dream was to get a mass brand with major marketing power to have its logo on the uniform while having a mass retailer capable of ramping up distribution and speed to market.
The full details are available in the following press release:
MLB Partners with Under Armour and Fanatics to Build on Global Growth and Drive Continued Passion for Baseball
BALTIMORE, MD (December 5, 2016) – Today, Under Armour (NYSE: UA, UA.C), Fanatics and Major League Baseball (MLB) announce a 10-year partnership that names the global performance brand as the official uniform provider to MLB, marking Under Armour's first-ever professional league uniform deal. The three organizations joining together introduces a new revolutionary model defined by its vision for–and investment in–serving millions of fans and players at all stages of the game. The collaborative partnership will provide cutting-edge on-field apparel for players, as well as the most responsive and significant merchandise assortment ever available for fans.
Beginning in the 2020 MLB season, Under Armour will be the exclusive MLB provider of all on-field uniform components including jerseys featuring prominent Under Armour branding, baselayer, game-day outerwear, and year-round training apparel for all 30 MLB Clubs. Fanatics, a global leader of licensed sports merchandise, will be granted broad consumer product licensing rights to manage the manufacturing and distribution of Under Armour and Fanatics fan gear, which include jerseys at retail, name & number products and Postseason apparel. Under Armour and Fanatics expect to offer an assortment of new fan gear apparel and accessories at retail, prior to the 2020 season.
Testing your knowledge of pretty useless trivia
Before the winter meetings really heat up, I set off to the infinitely useful Baseball Reference Play Index to try and find some statistical oddities and interesting information from the 2016 season.
Because the franchise will be playing its 20th season in 2017, there are 19 questions that will put those 2016 statistics into context of the team history, so I hope you remember the Devil Rays too.
Feel free to discuss your results in the comments. Feel free to not look at the comments until after you finish to avoid spoilers. Good luck, but beware that it may be harder to read on a mobile device.