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Slew of Free Agents could be back in 2017

Coming off a disappointing 2016 campaign, the Rays have quite a few names hitting the free agent market between their major and minor league rosters. Ten names to be exact. With RP Dana Eveland already re-signed to a minor league deal, that leaves nine more names the Rays might want to look at bringing back in before they’re scooped up by someone else.

RP Dana Eveland – The 33-year old lefty had a rough go of it in 2016 after an impressive spring. At one point he was DFA then brought back. Guess what? He’s back, again. The Rays signed him to a minor league contract back on October 31.
Status: Re-signed, minor league deal

C Hank Conger – He was the Opening Day backstop in 2016 but was a disappointment both at the plate and in the field. Conger played in just 49 games and finished with 3 home runs, 10 RBI and a paltry .194 batting avg. He also caught just eight of 43 base stealers for a mere 18% rate. With Casali/Maile/Wilson all showing upside, Conger hits the market.
Prediction: FA

OF Jaff Decker – He had a couple stints with the MLB club in 2016, playing in 19 games. He’s most likely sticking around to keep some depth in the outfield and hopefully start to produce at the MLB level like he did in AAA where he hit to a .787 OPS and showed more pop.
Prediction: minor league deal

OF Desmond Jennings – The seven years of the Jennings era ended in late August after the team announced they’d released the oft-injured outfielder. In just 65 games in ’16, Jennings showed signs of coming around having a decent June before injury sidelined him once again. Not likely the Rays re-sign DJ.
Prediction: FA

RP Kevin Jepsen – He began to turn it around a bit in the second half of 2016 and the Rays might take that as a sign to keep the 32-year old around to help mold what should be a younger bullpen. He must find a way to keep the ball in the yard, though. Between his time in Minnesota to start the year and then back with the Rays, Jepsen gave up a staggering 12 home runs in just 49.2 innings.
Prediction: re-signed MLB deal

RP Justin Marks – His numbers at AAA in 2016 as a starter were impressive. In his brief time at the MLB level as a reliever he looked good. Marks, who also pitched briefly with Kansas City in 2014, appeared in four games for the Rays pitching nine innings. His biggest knock was control as he issued nine free passes in those nine innings while striking out six.
Prediction: minor league deal

1B Logan Morrison – Placed on the 60-day DL (wrist) back in mid-September, LoMo never really produced the way the Rays hoped he would coming into the season as their starting first baseman. His horrendous start in April led to an absolutely stellar May. Then he struggled to stay consistent until September where he was getting hot again before the injury. Chances are he isn’t a free agent long – just not in Tampa where Brad Miller has likely taken over at first.
Prediction: FA

3B Juniel Querecuto – The 24-year old Venezuelan played all over the infield after being called up in September. Playing in just four games, he moved around from third base, shortstop, and second base showing his versatility in the field, but unfortunately not at the plate where he went just 1-for-11 with six strikeouts.
Prediction: minor league deal

SS Alexei Ramirez – After the Padres released him back on September 4, the Rays scooped him up a few days later and got everything they could out of the 35-year old. While his days as an every day player are gone – he might be considered as a solid bat off the bench and as veteran infield depth for the Rays in 2017 – especially if Matt Duffy isn’t healthy.
Prediction: re-signed MLB deal

RP Tyler Sturdevant – He was a 30-year old rookie in 2016 who made his debut in Miami against the Marlins back on May 24th. In 16 games with the Rays, Sturdevant showed plenty of signs that he is worth cracking an Opening Day bullpen in need of some consistency.
Prediction: re-signed MLB deal

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