By: Daniel Satter
First off, after the trade that landed the Rays Corey Dickerson, they lost a big piece in the bullpen in Jake McGee. What will the Rays do to fill the hole left in the bullpen? Well, they could use an in house name, sign a free agent, or trade for one, but who could either one of those players be?
Meanwhile, the Rays could look in house by giving the young flamethrower in Enny Romero another chance to show he belongs in the big leagues or give former All-Star Jonny Venters a shot at making the team out of camp.
Now, lets start with Enny Romero. Romero is a 25 year old southpaw that has major control problems, but with a flaming fastball. Romero reminds me of Jake McGee, but with the ability to throw breaking balls. Romero should focus more on controlling his fastball like McGee did, then work on the off-speed stuff. Romero pitched in a limited amount of games (23) in 2015 due to his inconsistent play by posting a 5.10 ERA (lacks ability right now to locate ball). He struck out 31 batters in 30 innings, which is his best ability to get hitters out. His walks were up with 13, which also shows his lack of control. Now, at times he did show improvement and will continue to grow with more experience at the professional level. Romero is a strike out and fly ball pitcher.
Next, Jonny Venters missed the past two seasons due to Tommy John surgeries. Now, with a full year of recovery, he should be ready for when catchers and pitchers report in Port Charlotte. Venters was a nasty pitcher in Atlanta before these gruesome injuries happened. Do not forget to notice that the 30-year-old has had three Tommy John surgeries in his baseball career. Venters last pitched in 2013, where he pitched in 66 games and posted a 3.22 ERA in 58.2 innings. Now, in 2011 and 2012 Venters had his best seasons in his career by posting ERAs of 1.95 and 1.84. He appeared in 164 games and pitching a total of 171 innings. Venters specializes in getting hitters to ground out with his dominate sinker.
Furthermore, the Rays have some money available after dumping McGee’s $4.1 mil to the Rockies. With that money the Rays could look at bringing in Matt Thornton for one year. Thornton is a veteran southpaw (39 years old) that has lots of experience that wuld help out a young Rays’ bullpen. The lefty had a good 2015 campaign. He threw 41.1 innings of work in 60 games. The free agent earned himself a 2.18 ERA. Now, Thornton used to be a big strike out pitcher, but as he got older his velocity dropped and he could not flame his fastball past the batter, so what do good athletes do? They figure out other ways to continue their career and Thornton did. Thornton could cost the Rays $2.7 mil.
Finally, the Rays could trade either Desmond Jennings or Brandon Guyer to acquire a solid reliever. That reliever could be Dan Jennings from the Chicago White Sox. Chicago have a loaded outfield with Melky Cabrera, Adam Eaton, and Avisail Garcia. Now, the 4th outfielder is J.B. Shuck, which Shuck is a decent player, but if I were a White Sox fan, I would feel better knowing Brandon Guyer or Desmond Jennings would be there to step in if one of the starters goes down with a injury. Garcia has had injury problems in the past, but finally played over 140 games in 2015. Now, the Rays would get a cheap lefty that pitched well enough to stay up in the pros in 2015 by posting a 3.99 ERA in 53 appearances. He threw 56.1 innings and striking out 46 batters. Jennings struggled in 2015 due to the fact that he was facing better hitters in the American League and pitching in a hitters friendly park unlike his time in Miami, which is a pitchers park and helped Jennings in 2014 post a 1.34 ERA. Jennings is 28 years old and just entered his first year of arbitration with a schedule of making $810K this year. The Rays could acquire a guy with club control for two more seasons, which they like to do.
My Prediction: Rays give Enny Romero and Jonny Venters a chance to win a bullpen spot.