Despite currently being in second place in the AL East, the Tampa Bay Rays lineup is still in need of another quality left-handed batter other than Ji-Man Choi.
On the year, the Rays are hitting are third in the league batting right, hitting .267. On the other hand, they are .226 as lefties, putting them at 17th in the league.
They are going to need to sort this out sooner rather than later if they are going to compete for the World Series this year. So, here are three options for the Tampa Bay Rays to solve this problem by the trade deadline.
Option #1 for the Tampa Bay Rays: First baseman Josh Bell, Washington Nationals
The first name on the list, and one that will probably be thrown into many trade rumors until the trade deadline passes, is Washington Nationals first baseman Josh Bell.
Though Bell is a switch hitter, he is first in Major League Baseball this season with a .403 average when batting as a lefty and has a 1.154 OPS. And to go along with these numbers, Bell has four home runs and 15 RBI batting left.
Additionally, one of the reasons his name is first on this list is because of his contract. According to Spotrac, he is only under contract with the Nationals for 2022 as he signed a one-year contract.
Outside of his stats and his contract, another reason he should be highly sought after is because of where the Nationals rank in the NL East. At the moment, the Nationals are last in the NL East and still have to contend with the Braves, Mets, Marlins, and Phillies.
Pile all these reasons together and you get a perfect trade candidate for any contending team, including the Tampa Bay Rays.
Option #2 for the Tampa Bay Rays: Left fielder Andrew Benintendi, Kansas City Royals
Next up on the list is Kansas City Royals left fielder Andrew Benintendi.
Benintendi is having one of his best years in the Majors by far at the plate. In 2022, he is hitting .330, which puts him fifth in the league for left-handed batters. He also has 12 RBI in the 26 games he has played this season.
According to Spotrac, Benintendi is in the final year of his contract with the Royals, just like Josh Bell. So would they rather cash in on him now, or take the chances that he will resign with them in the offseason?
It is hard to say. However, with the Rays in need of a lefty, it cannot hurt to inquire about his availability.
Option #3 for the Tampa Bay Rays: First baseman Eric Hosmer, San Diego Padres
The last player on this list, and the least likely of the options, is Eric Hosmer. While he might be more of a long shot given that the San Diego Padres are trying to make it to the World Series and he has been with them since 2018, it does not hurt to try.
Now, maybe you’re noticing the similarities between the previous two players and Hosmer. And if someone were to guess why Hosmer made the list, they would probably say, “stats” and “contract.” Correct!
He is slashing .350, third in MLB among lefties, and has an on-base percentage of .425, which both of these stats would immediately help the Rays. Also, he has 18 RBI in 28 games.
Hosmer is potentially in his final year with the Padres. So, he could maybe find a new home in the offseason if he decides to opt out of his contract after this year as he has an opt-out clause after 2022, per Spotrac.
Will it be tough to nab him from the Padres? Yes, and like the other two, the Rays should at least see if he is available.