Rays Sign Jayson Nix; Retain Jerry Sands | The Process Report

Rays Sign Jayson Nix; Retain Jerry Sands

Update: The team has made the Nix signing official. Both he and Sands have received invites to big league camp.

The tea leaves suggested the Rays were in the market for a right-handed infielder with positional flexibility. At one point or another, the club was rumored to have interest in Danny Espinosa, Jamey Carroll and Mark Ellis. With all three of those players now employed by other organizations, Tampa Bay will reportedly fill the role with Jayson Nix. I mentioned the 31-year-old as a possibility in December.

Nix has spent parts of the last six seasons in the major leagues with five different organizations including the last two years as a member of the Yankees. With New York, he was responsible for filling in along the infield (and some outfield) as the team dealt with multiple injuries. He is not a defensive specialist by trade, but can handle himself up the middle and is playable – if not a bit more – at the hot corner.

Out of necessity Nix has logged more plate appearances against right-handers than left-handers recently, but a platoon role serves him best. Since 2011, he owns a line of .262/.346/.393 against southpaws and a .199/.259/.298 line versus same-siders. He is a bit of a free-swinger and is susceptible to pitches with bend or wiggle; most notably those on the outer half. With a full complement of hitters available against right-handed pitching, the Rays should be able to maximize whatever value his bat may provide. Nix is also a capable runner that is a threat to steal once aboard or used as a late-inning replacement on the bases.

A minor-league contract gives Nix no guarantee to make the Rays out of spring training. Furthermore, there is a reported opt-out clause in his deal if a major-league opportunity becomes available. However, considering his strengths and the composition of the club, that opportunity may come in Tampa Bay. He has the skill set to start at an infield position versus left-handed pitching while serving as the primary backup to Yunel Escobar at shortstop. His inclusion on the roster would allow Joe Maddon to continue to use Ben Zobrist as an outfielder as well as rotating the designated hitter spot among right-handed regulars (Wil Myers, Evan Longoria) versus lefties.

In other news, Kiley McDaniel reports Jerry Sands has cleared waivers and will remain with the organization. Sands was designated for assignment to make room for Pedro Figueroa.

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