Posted on February 3, 2017 by Bryan Zarpentine
The Tampa Bay Rays have agreed to re-sign first baseman Logan Morrison, according to multiple reports. The deal is not yet official, as the Rays have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for him. However, multiple outlets are reporting that the deal is for one year and $2.5 million, with close to another $1 million in incentives, as Morrison is returning to Tampa Bay for a second season.
Morrison served as Tampa Bay’s primary first baseman for much of last season. However, he was derailed by a couple of injuries. He first suffered a forearm sprain in late July, and later succumbed to a wrist injury in September that required surgery and ended his season a few weeks early. When he was healthy, Morrison hit .238 with an OPS of .733, a solid line considering his profound struggles during the early part of the season.
With Morrison returning to the Rays, it all but confirms the reports that Brad Miller will be shifting to second base after closing out last season as Tampa Bay’s first baseman once Morrison went to the DL. Miller moving to second base became necessary after the Rays traded Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers for pitching prospect Jose De Leon.
Of course, re-signing Morrison does not preclude the Rays from making another move before the start of the season. Morrison did not have discernible splits between left- and right-handed pitchers last season, but it has been an issue for him in the past, and so the Rays could explore their options for a right-handed hitter who can play first base. As it stands, Miller and Nick Franklin are the backup first baseman, but neither would work in a platoon with Morrison and neither is a natural first baseman.
The Rays have been linked with Chris Carter in recent weeks, and he remains an option even with the return of Morrison. Carter was tied for the National League lead in home runs last year with 42, yet he remains unemployed with spring training fast approaching. Carter could conceivably platoon with Morrison at first base, while also giving the Rays another option at DH and a power threat coming off the bench. Billy Butler is a similar player who has also been connected to the Rays this winter. Butler may be a more affordable option for the Rays than Carter.
There’s also a chance the Rays could make a late push for catcher Matt Wieters, who also remains unsigned at this stage in the offseason. Wieters could take over behind the plate for the Rays, while also allowing Wilson Ramos to serve as a DH when he returns from his ACL tear. Wieters is less likely to end up with the Rays, but it’s not impossible, even with the signing of Morrison.
The signing of Morrison does bring things into focus with regard to how the Rays will align their infield this season. It also gives them another left-handed hitter who’s capable of hitting for power, joining the likes of Miller, Corey Dickerson, and newly signed Colby Rasmus. Morrison doesn’t figure to make a huge impact, but he does fill their need at first base without eliminating the possibility of the Rays adding one more offensive player before the start of the season.