Jason Bartlett Still Doesn’t Fit 2011 Rays | The Process Report

Jason Bartlett Still Doesn’t Fit 2011 Rays

A number of shortstop transactions occurred this week. Troy Tulowitzki signed a deal that lasts through 2020; Juan Uribe went to the Dodgers (to become their second baseman); Miguel Tejada to the Giants (to become either their shortstop or third baseman, nobody seems quite sure); Ryan Theriot to St. Louis (to become their shortstop, thus leaving Brendan Ryan available); and the Pirates agreed to a deal with Ronny Cedeno (worth $2 million).

All that movement has created a diminished market for Jason Bartlett. The Orioles are still in dire need of a warm body to fill the six hole and the Pirates could afford an upgrade. The Padres trade of Adrian Gonzalez lessens the likelihood that they will make a welcoming recipient for a one-year rental. With fewer suitors, the Rays’ demands could go a number of ways. Either a team like the Pirates or Orioles will grow tired of waiting on a better alternative to pop up, thus giving the Rays what they want. Or the Rays could lower their demands to get a deal done. The least likely scenario has the Rays holding onto Bartlett for the 2011 season.

If the Rays didn’t have Reid Brignac then holding onto Bartlett would be a given. However, with the presence of Brignac and the lowered expectations for the 2011 season, now is the perfect time to allow the soon-to-be 25-year-old to become accustomed with playing daily. Some would offer that the Rays could do this while holding onto Bartlett, but the best reason for holding onto him revolve around compensation. Either in the form of a draft pick (since Bartlett projects as a Type A free agent) or through trade. The odds of either compensation weaken the less Bartlett plays.

Meanwhile the more Bartlett plays, the less one of the big picture pieces play (either Brignac or Sean Rodriguez). This goes without refuting the idea that the Rays would lower costs while paying a utility infield four-plus million to play only against lefties. It is true that the Rays could send Brignac to the minors while playing Bartlett daily, but after keeping Brignac up for an entire season in a utility role, the team would be sending mixed signals to the youngster.

The Winter Meetings commence Monday. If the Bartlett trade saga comes to end before they conclude is to be seen, but the chances of Bartlett making the Rays’ Opening Day roster remains nothing short of an upset.

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