Kevin Kiermaier and Manuel Margot are hard-coded atop the centerfield depth chart for the Tampa Bay Rays, but both players come with question marks.. If you will, the Mount Rushmore of 31st-round selections…. While Refsnyder drew walks at an excellent 17.5% clip in 103 plate appearances for the Rays, he managed only a .167/.314/.274 overall slash line. With his offense and health perennially in question, finding a suitor may prove more difficult than one would think for the No. His two-year slash line checks in at just .223/.280/.386 across 847 plate appearances. 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It hasn’t clicked yet for Fox offensively with a .244/.337/.325 line across four seasons in the minor leagues. Despite Kiermaier’s statesman status as the longest-tenured Ray, the club has taken an aggressive approach to finding players capable of roaming the grass in center. Since the start of the 2014 season and over 4966 2/3 innings in center field, Kiermaier has 112 Defensive Runs Saved and a 14.8 UZR/150.Â Among all other players in baseball with at least 4500 innings at a single position, only Andrelton Simmons is ahead of Kiermaier in both stat categories, with Mookie Betts also leading all players in UZR/150.Â Betts’ excellence has come in right field rather than the more demanding center field position, and while I’m not going to make a claim that the amazing Simmons isn’t anything less than the best defensive player of his era, Simmons did accumulate his 144 DRS with the benefit of more than 2000 more innings at shortstop than Kiermaier has played in center field. "You're talking about the faces of our franchise right now, and guys who have made a commitment to the Tampa Bay Rays," Silverman said. At the conclusion of the 2017 season, the Tampa Bay Rays front office decided it was time to change directions. Kiermaier originally stayed in the game after being plunked, but with only a handful of games remaining, it seems likely that he’ll get an early start on his offseason. Though Simmons had a head start by beginning his career during the 2012 season, that big innings gap underscores Kiermaier’s issues in staying on the field.Â From 2016-18, Kiermaier played in only 291 of 486 games due to a fractured left hand, a hip fracture, and a torn right thumb ligament.Â He also had a brief injured list stint last season due to a thumb sprain, but overall, 2019 was a pretty healthy season for Kiermaier, as he appeared in 129 games and made 480 plate appearances. By Jeff Todd | March 12, 2019 at 12:53pm CDT. I hope to prove that this year and many more to come. 1 center field defender in baseball, but looking back on the Rays’ history of dealings it only seems inevitable that Kevin Kiermaier is playing elsewhere in 2021. In terms of “proper” 31st-rounders, as in players who actually did sign after being drafted, there are a few notable names in the game today: Brewers reliever Brent Suter, Mariners reliever Matt Magill, and Red Sox catcher Jett Bandy (still in Boston’s organization as a non-roster invitee).Â Plus, there is the other noteworthy active 31st-rounder, one who is on pace to become the best 31st-round pick in baseball history. SATURDAY: Sour news out of Tampa tonight, asÂ MLB.com’s Juan Toribio indicates that Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier will likely miss time after injuring his left thumb in a matchup with the White Sox this evening (Twitter link). Fox is a tremendous speedster, making him a fit for center from a raw tools standpoint, but he has yet to log any professional time in the outfield. As before, however, he failed to produce at a convincing clip at the plate. Archer agreed to a six-year, $25.5 million contract after the 2014 season. All of these injuries during what would have been prime years surely haven’t helped Kiermaier’s consistency at the plate.Â Over 847 PA in 2018-19, Kiermaier was a decidedly below-average hitter, batting just .223/.280/.386 with 21 homers.Â These recent struggles dropped Kiermaier to a 98 OPS+ over his career, after he had managed a 107 OPS+ through his first 1734 PA. To be clear, if Kiermaier is able to hit at even a 98 OPS+ level while still maintaining his superb defense and strong baserunning, he is still a major asset to Tampa Bay’s team.Â “Asset” always carries a different meaning to the Rays than to most teams, however, given how Tampa is consistently trying to manage one of the game’s lowest payrolls.Â It is also particularly applicable to Kiermaier given his status as one of the few higher-paid players on the roster. Kiermaier missed 48 games with a broken left hand in 2016. He batted .246 with 12 homers, 37 RBIs and a career-best 21 stolen bases. I always want to be the best player I can possibly be," the native of Fort Wayne, Indiana, said. It could also be a very hard sell for many a Rays fan who long for the days when Longoria manned the hot corner. Before acquiring Margot, the Rays also picked up Randy Arozarena in the Matthew Liberatore trade. He ran for himself but was replaced defensively in the following half-inning.Â Kiermaier posted a .217/.321/.367 line in the regular season and hasn’t hit much this postseason. Tanaka suffered the injury on the bases, thus cutting short a performance in which he allowed one run on one hit and a walk and struck out eight. Why would Kiermaier be worthy of a double standard from the franchise’s best player? The Rays know what they like, apparently, because they are continuing to experiment withÂ power-shyÂ Lucius Fox in centerfield, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.Â Fox has been an infielder for most of his career, primarily at shortstop, though he’s gotten looks at second and third as well. BREAKING: #Rays , Kiermaier nearing long-term deal for at least 6 years, $50M. Defensive standout Kevin Kiermaier and the Tampa Bay Rays have finalized a six-year, $53.6 million contract extension that keeps the center fielder with the team through 2022. By Mark Polishuk | June 6, 2020 at 12:47pm CDT. "At the time, I was pretty bitter about that because I knew I was better than that," he added. This kind of athletic abandon has helped make Kiermaier a fan favorite since debuting with the Rays in 2013, and he usually draws strong marks for both his baserunning and defense. "A lot of hard work and dedication can make a lot of great things happen.". The Tampa Bay Rays are loaded in the outfield. From 2017 to 2019, Kevin Kiermaier played in only 315 of a possible 486 games, missing nearly half of the season in both 2017 and 2018 and only playing in 129 games in 2019. They traded away Jake Odorizzi, Steven Souza Jr., and Corey Dickerson, overhauling the look of a team that won just 80 games. PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (AP) The drive from 31st-round draft choice to one of baseball’s best defensive players paid off for Kevin Kiermaier. Here are all the latest updates from around the American League…, Baltimore Orioles Chicago White Sox Hanser Alberto Kevin Kiermaier Leury Garcia Notes Rafael Montero Tampa Bay Rays Texas Rangers, By Dylan A.