This upcoming offseason marks an offseason of transition for the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s all but a forgone conclusion that they will lose Carl Crawford and Rafael Soriano to free agency and they may lose 1B Carlos Pena as well (though I think he will re-sign).
Not only may they lose Crawford and Pena, but because of budget constraints, the Rays may be forced to cut payroll in 2011. In the offseason, the Rays may look to trade James Shields, Matt Garza, B.J. Upton or Jason Bartlett.
For the purposes of this post, I wanted to focus on Bartlett. I think with Reid Brignac in the mix for the Rays, Bartlett may be the one who gets shipped out of town.
If that’s the case, let’s look at the pros, cons, and who may be interested in the former Oklahoma Sooner.
If there is a team interested in a steady, but unspectacular shortstop, then Barlett might be there guy. If we are just talking about shortstops, then Barlett has been one of the more consistent ones over the past three seasons. Here is where Barlett ranks amongst his fellow shortstops…
SB – 5th (61)
OPS – 7th (.752)
AVG – 8th (.288)
WAR – 10th (7.4)
A lot of Bartlett’s overall success over the last three seasons can be attributed to his breakout 2009 season. Bartlett hit .320 with a career high 14 HR, 30 SB, and .879 OPS.
It looked as if Bartlett finally turned the corner offensively, but then…
His 2010 season was less than stellar. If you take out Bartlett’s 2009 season, he has averaged a .284/.343/.369 hitting line with three HR throughout his career. Well, that was pretty much in line with what Bartlett produced in 2010.
Bartlett hit .254/.324/.350 with four HR in 135 games. Outside of his low average, everything else fell into place.
A GM has to ask himself if his 2009 season was an aberration or if Bartlett had a really down year because he seemed to be hurt all the time. It’s a fair question, but I think 2009 was just an aberration.
Speaking of hurt all the time, Barlett has never played more than 140 games in a season. On the flip side, someone like Orlando Cabrera has played in 150 games eight out of the last 10 years.
I always viewed Bartlett as one of the "good glove, no hit" shortstops, but statistically that’s not even the case. In the last three years, of the 18 shortstops that qualify defensively, Bartlett ranks 17th in terms of UZR (-13.9).
In Bartlett’s defense, I have watched him on a pretty consistent basis over the past three or four seasons and I don’t believe that he is that bad. He gets to all the plays he needs to.
As for Barlett’s contract, he is a third-time arbitration eligible player. He earned $4 million last year and stands to earn more than that in 2011. Considering that he produced around $11 million in value on average to the Rays in his three years on the team, it’s not such a bad deal.
Of course, a lot of that production and value is tied into his 2009 season. He produced like a $22 million player that season.
Now that we have looked at the pros and cons of the soon-to-be 31-year-old, let’s take a look at the teams who might be interested in trading for him…
Detroit Tigers: The Tigers have a $7 million option on Jhonny Peralta and are expected to decline. They are also expected to try to resign Peralta at a more cost effective (corporate term for “cheaper”) rate, but if the two sides can’t come to an agreement, Bartlett could be an option.
Seattle Mariners: Jack Wilson is god awful. Bartlett or anybody for that matter, would be an upgrade over him.
Baltimore Orioles: I think the Cesar Izturis experiment is over in Baltimore. The Orioles figure to be better than they were in 2011 and surrounding their young players like Josh Bell with veterans isn’t the worst idea in the world.
San Francisco Giants: Both Edgar Renteria and Juan Uribe are free agents after the World Series. I would guess the Giants will bring back Uribe, but Bartlett would be a nice replacement for the National League champs.
Washington Nationals: Bartlett could used the same way Ivan Rodriguez was used in Washington last year. He could be a guy that nurtures Washington’s young infield talent like Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa.
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