News broke late Sunday night that the Tampa Bay Rays traded ace pitcher Blake Snell to the San Diego Padres. The trade (which yielded a strong return in prospects) indicates that the Rays are yet again looking to cut costs. The Phillies could well be looking to take advantage of this.
The Rays are notorious for keeping a payroll so small even Billy Beane would be impressed. In fact, the reigning American League Champions had the third-lowest payroll in 2020. After the COVID-19 pay cuts, the Rays only paid their players $28.3 million (the #1 Yankees paid their players $111 million).
Following the Snell trade, center fielder Kevin Kiermaier stands as the Rays’ highest-paid player. Kiermaier is set to earn $23 million over the next two seasons with a $13 million club option for 2023. So, of course, the Rays are shopping Kiermaier as well.
Should the Phillies be interested in Kiermaier?
Kiermaier, 30, is a three-time Gold Glover in center field. Defensively, he is a stud, having finished out the 2020 season without committing a single error. He is a leader on the field and brings an interesting combination of speed and power to the plate.
The big issue with Kiermaier, however, is his injury history. Kiermaier hasn’t played a full season’s worth of games since 2015. He has a history of injuries to his hand, thumb, and hips. Similar to Phillies’ CF Roman Quinn, Kiermaier just can’t stay healthy.
Kiermaier additionally has been a below-average batter since 2015 as well. While he is a threat on the bases once he gets there, his slash line just does not bode well for a starting outfielder. Adam Haseley, Mickey Moniak, and Andrew McCutchen are all more suitable pieces to start in left and center field.
If the Phillies could convince the Rays to take on a chunk of the $23 million owed to Kiermaier, he would be a serviceable bench/depth addition. Unfortunately, given the Rays’ propensity for low wages, they are likely looking for someone to take on all of Kiermaier’s contract.
Overall, Kiermaier is worth a check-in from the Phillies, but they are better suited to spend their money elsewhere this offseason.
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