Thursday, February 7, 2008

Analyzing the Rays signings of Eric Hinske & Trever Miller

Yesterday the Rays announced the signings of two more players to the team. LHP Trever Miller returns to the Rays after a 2-year stint with the Astros and 2002 AL Rookie of the Year IF/OF Eric Hinske agreed to terms.

Trever Miller's deal is 1 year $1.6 million dollars with a $2 million dollar option for '09 or a $400 thousand dollar buyout. Basically its a 1 year $2 million dollar deal at worst. If Miller can hold lefties to his 07 line of 209/.301/.352 then the Rays will have the solid Left-handed reliever they've been searching for. The signing of Miller also brings additional organization to the Rays pen which is shaping up to look like:

Closer: Percival
Set up: Reyes
Set up: Wheeler
Loogy: Miller
Mid: Glover
Long: Hammel

That list is not set in stone but Percival, Reyes, Wheeler & now Miller are locks for the team. Glover is a Maddon favorite and the Rays made a commitment to him by giving him a contract over $1 million this offseason, so he looks like a safe bet. Hammel has an outside chance at one of the remaining rotation spots, but if he doesn't make the rotation he is out of options. The team will likely retain him because he most likely would be picked up by another team if he's placed on waivers.

That leaves one spot for pretty large group including: Juan Salas, Scott Dohmann, Grant Balfour and long shots Kirk Birkins & Chad Orvella. The race for the two remaining rotation spots may play a role in the this.

The Rays also announced the signing of Eric Hinske to a minor league deal that could guarantee him $800,000 should he make the team. Hinske provides the team depth at a couple of positions. He has seen alot of time at first and third base, and can play the corner OF positions. It is a typical low risk, possible high return move for the Rays. The move reminds me of the Carlos Pena signing last year. I'm not saying Hinske will have a Pena like season, but he is a former highly touted prospect who never really lived up to the hype just like Carlos. Like Pena, he is being brought into camp as an insurance policy. Hinske could see valuable time at First and Third if some of the current options don't work. Everyday it looks more and more likely Evan Longoria will spend a month or two getting extra AB's in Durham, while also stalling his arbitration clock. Joel Guzman is the front runner for opening day third basemen, but has been so inconsistent over the last few years. Willy Aybar's domestic case was dropped, but this is just the lastest setback in a line of Aybar events. Idealy the Rays don't want to have to count on Aybar as their only other option, and Hinske gives the Rays a safety net at a cheap price.