Wil Myers' half-season in the majors was better than the full season of any other American League rookie.
That was the verdict of the Baseball Writers Association of America, which awarded the Tampa Bay Rays right fielder the AL Rookie of the Year on Nov. 11.
Myers, 22, was a runaway winner, earning 23 of 30 first-place votes. Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias, who received five first-place votes, came in second place. Rays right-hander Chris Archer finished third, getting one first-place vote. The final first-place vote went to Oakland A's right-hander Dan Straily, who came in fourth in the balloting.
Speaking on MLB Network, Myers said, "It's awesome. It's a huge honor to win this. I'm very excited."
Myers emerged with the hardware even though his major league debut was delayed until June 18. He batted .293 with a .354 on-base percentage, a .478 slugging percentage, 13 home runs and 53 RBIs in 88 games.
Myers was acquired by the Rays last winter in an eight-player trade that sent right-hander James Shields to the Kansas City Royals.
Iglesias, a 23-year-old Cuban, was acquired by the Tigers from the Boston Red Sox in a late-July trade. A slick defender, Iglesias filled in down the stretch for Detroit while shortstop Jhonny Peralta served a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. Iglesias batted a combined .303 with a .349 on-base percentage, a .386 slugging percentage, three homers and 29 RBIs in 109 games.
Archer, 25, went 9-7 with a 3.22 ERA in 23 starts. He tied for third in the league with two shutouts.
2013: 92-71, second place in AL East, lost to Red Sox in AL Division Series
TEAM MVP: 3B Evan Longoria admits he has had one of his most inconsistent and frustrating seasons. Asked by one reporter, he said he would tab SS Yunel Escobar as the team MVP. But Longoria is most deserving of the honor. He still leads the team in home runs and RBIs, has played Gold Glove quality defense on a nightly basis and has grown into a leadership role on the team.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: For a team that forced a one-game tiebreaker to get into the playoffs, the Rays had a surprising number of candidates. But the player who stood out was OF Matt Joyce, who went into extended and extensive slumps several times during the season, including September, when he was 5-for-56. Between his lack of offensive production and inconsistent defensive play, he not only ended up on the bench at times but led the Rays to acquire David DeJesus in August. Joyce has put his future with the Rays very much in question.
TOP PROSPECT: INF Tim Beckham has spent five years in the shadow of Giants star C Buster Posey, whom the Rays could have taken instead with the first pick of the 2008 draft. But the Rays stuck with Beckham despite some on- and off-field issues, and he eventually started showing some of the production they expected. He was called up for the final two weeks of the regular season, impressing enough to earn a late-September start at second base, and is likely to compete for a reserve job in 2014, with the potential to earn a starting position by year's end.
--RHP Heath Bell and C Ryan Hanigan were acquired by the Rays on Dec. 2 as part of a three-team trade with the Diamondbacks and Reds. Bell moved from Arizona, which also sent $500,000 to Tampa Bay to offset part of his salary. Hanigan joined the Rays from Cincinnati.
Arizona got minor league RHP Justin Choate from the Tampa Bay organization, plus a player to be named or cash. Cincinnati received LHP David Holmberg from Arizona.
Bell, 36, is headed for his fourth team in four seasons. He went 5-2 with 15 saves and a 4.11 ERA in 69 appearances during his lone year with Arizona. Bell will receive $9 million next season, and his $9 million option for 2015 would become guaranteed if he finishes 55 games in 2014.
Hanigan, 33, will compete for playing time in Tampa Bay with two other catchers, Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton. Hanigan batted a career-low .198 with two homers and 21 RBIs in 77 games for Cincinnati this year.
Holmberg, 22, made his major league debut as a spot starter for Arizona on Aug. 27, allowing three runs in 3 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the San Diego Padres. It was his lone big-league outing. He went 5-8 with a 2.75 ERA in 26 starts for Double-A Mobile.
Choate, who turns 23 this month, finished 1-3 with six saves and a 2.88 ERA in 16 relief appearances for short-season Class A Hudson Valley this year.
--OF Sam Fuld and LHP Wesley Wright were non-tendered by the Rays, making them free agents. Fuld, 32, hit .199 in 119 games last season. Wright, 28, had no decisions and a 2.92 ERA in 16 appearances for the Rays in 2013. He began the season with Houston, and he went 0-4 with a 3.92 ERA in 54 outings for the Astros.
--C Jose Molina, a free agent, re-signed with the Rays, receiving a two-year, $4.5 million deal, CBS Sports reported Nov. 24.
Molina, 38, is known more for his defensive skills and leadership qualities behind the plate than for his offense. He hit .233 with two homers in 99 games in 2013.
Molina threw out 29 percent of baserunners who attempted to steal on him last season, and he has an ability to frame pitches to steal strikes for his pitchers.
Presumably, Molina will again split time with Jose Lobaton as the Rays' starting catcher in 2014. Molina started 87 games at catcher last season and 80 in 2012.
--RHP Jeff Niemann, outrighted off the Rays' 40-man roster, declined the assignment to the minor leagues and chose to become a free agent. Niemann, 30, missed the entire 2013 season after undergoing right shoulder surgery in April to repair his labrum and rotator cuff. He would have been eligible for arbitration this winter.
In 2012, Niemann missed more than half of the season after his right leg was broken when hit by a ground ball in May. He came back to make a Sept. 1 start, but he left the game after 3 1/3 scoreless innings due to a sore shoulder. That was his last major league appearance to date.
--OF David DeJesus signed a two-year, $10.5 million deal with the Rays on Nov. 6. The announcement came three days after the team picked up the $6.5 million club option on DeJesus' contract for 2014, a deal that was replaced by the new agreement. The team holds a $5 million option with a $1 million buyout for 2016. DeJesus, 33, batted .251 with eight home runs and 38 RBIs in 122 games combined with the Rays, Nationals and Cubs this season. He is a career .279 hitter. DeJesus started 26 games with Tampa Bay after he was acquired from Washington on Aug. 23.
--SS Yunel Escobar and 2B/OF Ben Zobrist had their club options picked up by the Rays on Nov. 2. Escobar, 31, hit .256/.332/.366 with nine homers and 56 RBIs in 153 games this year. Zobrist, 27, batted .275/.354/.402 with 12 homers and 71 RBIs in 157 games.
--LHP David Price said that based on how the Rays have operated in recent seasons, such as trading Matt Garza and James Shields, he expects to be dealt this offseason. "If you go with what's been done in the past, I guess you're going to have to think you're going to get traded," Price said. "That's kind of the way it's happened with this organization when pitchers kind of get to this period in their career. We've seen it happen a couple of times already. I don't know what's going to happen, but I know what's happened in the past."
--OF Wil Myers, the AL Rookie of the Year, made a solid impression during his first 3 1/2 months in the majors, manager Joe Maddon said. The Rays are excited about his power and overall production at the plate and were impressed with his baserunning. Defense will be targeted for improvement next spring, as the Rays want him to work on his technique.
--3B Evan Longoria said he doesn't pay attention to many statistics, but he was quite pleased that he played in a career-high 160 of the 163 regular-season games. "That's actually a number I really focused on," Longoria said. "That's pretty good; I'd take that every year." Longoria said the surgical procedure he had on his previously troublesome hamstring after last season was "the best thing that I did, and it paid off."
--RHP Jamey Wright said making the postseason for the first time in his 18-season career inspired him to keep playing, and he would like to stay with the Rays. "I love to be out there, I love to compete," said Wright, who turns 39 in December. "This was the kind of season that'll make you want to go out there and do it all over again. I'll be looking forward to working out. I know it's going to make me that much more hungry to come in ready to go for spring training and dial it up again next year."
--OF Matt Joyce grew up in Tampa and likes playing for his hometown team, but also believes that if he got to play more regularly he would play better. "I love being part of this organization, they've done amazing things to turn it around and to build something that is pretty special here," he said. "At the same time, you guys know that I would love to play every day. I've wanted that for a while. It's tough to be in a platoon role. There's a lot of guys who have dealt with it here, and it's been something that's more prevalent in the game today. You just have a lot of wishes and a lot of things that you want, but at end of the day, I'm still a Tampa Bay Ray and look forward to coming back next year."
--DH Luke Scott's disappointing two-season tenure with the Rays appears to be over as he is eligible for free agency. He said it was tough not playing much down the stretch, and to be left off the postseason roster, but he tried to do what he could to help. "If I'm going to be a 35-year-old male cheerleader, so to speak, then I guess that's what I had to be -- just don't expect me to do cartwheels and handstands and wear a skirt," he said.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "This probably would be the most frustrating end for me personally seeing the potential in our team and believing we were much better than the season ended up. We really thought we could have virtually switched places with the Red Sox, not only in the playoffs but in the regular season." -- 2B Ben Zobrist.
As usual, the Rays face a hectic and uncertain offseason, with 13 potential free agents (four on team options) and 11 players eligible for arbitration, while principal owner Stuart Sternberg is on record saying that finishing last in attendance will force some adjustments to the budget.
BIGGEST NEEDS: Regardless of which positions end up open based on which free agents they retain, the Rays have to find a way to improve their offense in terms of production and overall consistency as they finished in the middle of the pack in most categories. With returning starters at five positions, their target areas will be first base, left field and DH. They also are likely to need a closer given the potential departure of free agent Fernando Rodney.
ARRIVALS: RHP Heath Bell (trade with Diamondbacks), C Ryan Hanigan (trade with Reds)
FREE AGENTS: RHP Jesse Crain, RHP Roberto Hernandez, INF Kelly Johnson, 1B James Loney, RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo, RHP Fernando Rodney, DH Luke Scott, RHP Jamey Wright, DH Delmon Young, RHP Jeff Niemann, OF Sam Fuld, LHP Wesley Wright
Oviedo, who didn't make it back from Tommy John surgery during the season, is unlikely to return. Among the others, the Rays will have interest in Loney and Rodney, but their pursuit will be limited financially so interest from other teams will drive the process. Wright and Young are also possibilities to return.
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: C Chris Gimenez, RHP Jeremy Hellickson, OF Matt Joyce, C Jose Lobaton, LHP Jake McGee, LHP David Price, LHP Cesar Ramos, INF/OF Sean Rodriguez, C Ryan Hanigan
The headline attraction in this group is Price, who made more than $10 million this past season and is a strong candidate to be traded this offseason. Because Hellickson and Joyce are coming off disappointing seasons, their raises will be minimized. Niemann missed the whole season after opting for shoulder surgery.
IN LIMBO: LHP David Price
Price isn't a free agent until after the 2015 season, but his future will be a topic that hovers over the Rays all offseason, as they decide whether to trade him to maximize their return or bring him back for at least one more year.
--RHP Jeff Niemann (right shoulder surgery in April 2012) said at the end of the season he was ahead of schedule in his recovery from the operation that kept him out all of 2013. He expects to be throwing during spring training.
--RHP Jesse Crain (strained right shoulder) missed the second half of the season, never pitching after the Rays acquired him in late July from the White Sox. He may need what was described as a minor surgical procedure. He is expected to be ready to pitch next season, though as a free agent, he may have to show he is healthy before he is signed.
--RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo (Tommy John surgery in September 2012) didn't recover to pitch in 2013 as he and the team hoped. However, he was throwing in the instructional league, and the Rays will base their assessment on what they saw there.
- Sports & Recreation
- Tampa Bay Rays
- Jose Molina
- Evan Longoria
- Wesley Wright