As the Tampa Bay Rays attempt to clear more payroll, these 3 teams should trade for Kevin Kiermaier.
With budget constraints regardless of circumstance, the Tampa Bay Rays consistently have to keep payroll in check. After trading Blake Snell to the San Diego Padres on Sunday, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY has reported centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier is “next on the trade block” for the Rays.
Kiermaier struggled at the plate during the shortened 2020 season (.217/.321/.362 slash-line). But his BABIP (.290) shows some bad luck, and he remained one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game (10 Defensive Runs Saved, 7.7 UZR, 30.7 UZR/150, via FanGraphs).
But Kiermaier is due to make $11.5 million next season, then $12 million in 2022 and $13 million on a club option ($2.5 million buyout) for 2023. That is significant money for the Rays no matter what, but coming of a short season with even less revenue coming in it has become more prohibitive.
Kiermaier played less than 100 games in 2017 and 2018, as his willingness to go after anything in center field exposes him to injury possibilities. So beyond the money he’s owed, he is not without risk as a trade acquisition. That said, there should be a solid market for his services.
3 teams who should trade for Kevin Kiermaier
Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays are a significant rumored suitor for George Springer. But if they consider other options for center field, Kiermaier may now enter the mix (if he wasn’t on the radar already). If they can find a team to take Randal Grichuk, and the three years for $28 million left on his deal, the path to a move would be cleared.
The Blue Jays have of course seen plenty of Kiermaier over the years in the AL East. In 94 career games against them he has a .288 bating average and an .816 OPS. Narrowing to Rogers Centre, he has a .296 average and an .870 OPS in 42 career games there.
Toronto shouldn’t have to part with a premium prospect to get Kiermaier.
Blue Jays Get
OF Kevin Kiermaier
SS/2B Leonardo Jimenez
OF/DH Derek Fisher