Potential Player of Interest: Craig Gentry | The Process Report

Potential Player of Interest: Craig Gentry

Over the weekend, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reported the Rays are in the market for a center fielder. While Stark mentioned Michael Bourn in passing, that seems like an unlikely marriage for the obvious reasons (salary, draft-pick compensation, etc.). Here’s a more likely alternative: Craig Gentry. Tampa Bay supposedly had interest in acquiring Gentry earlier in the offseason, and he could become available again if the Rangers were to entertain signing Bourn.

Defense is Gentry’s business. His stellar first-step, good range, and good arm combine to make him one of the best outfield defenders in the game. Gentry is an angel in the outfield but a Kotchmanian devil at the plate. His swing is ugly and top-heavy and he chops at the ball, limiting his quality of contact. The good news is his above-average speed allows him to turn some weak batted balls into infield hits. In that same vein, Gentry uses the bunt as a weapon. His career success rate on stolen base attempts is 82 percent, and he’s taken the extra base at about the same clip as the patron saint of extra bases Ben Zobrist.

You wonder if the Rays could tweak Gentry’s swing with an eye on leveling it out. Otherwise, Gentry’s lacking power and unwillingness to walk limits him as a hitter. There will be stretches when balls bleed through the infield. But as is Gentry is suited for the bottom of an order, and perhaps a platoon role should his struggles with righties continue. If the bat does improve, the defense and baserunning are good enough to merit a starting position.

Of course, it’s possible the Rays could also use Gentry in a platoon with Sam Fuld until they deem Wil Myers ready for big-league action. With 20 days until pitchers and catchers report, expect some action sooner rather than later.

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