The Tampa Bay Rays filled one of the holes in the lineup the other day, signing Luke Scott to become their DH, but they still have a gaping hole at first base. With Casey Kotchman a free agent, the Rays have been combing free agency and the trade market for another player to bring in -- hopefully one that can upgrade their offense.
But with the free agent market looking thin, it sounds as though the Rays are starting to expand their search:
"We're just looking for a bat," Friedman said. "We like to have 'optionality.' We like to be as flexible as we can be. We don't want to pigeonhole ourselves into any one area if we can avoid it just because it expands the applicant pool.
"We're just going through a long list of names right now trying to figure out how we can line up on the best player that we can, when factoring in offense, fit with our offensive unit, defense, and the net result." (Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times)
Our own Dan Russell took a look at the remaining first basemen available on the market, and the full list isn't too encouraging. There are some interesting hitters that the Rays could add through free agency or a trade -- Carlos Pena, Billy Butler, Lucas Duda, etc. -- but most of the players would be expensive to acquire. Pena is the best hitter remaining on the free agent market (outside Prince Fielder, of course), and young players like Lucas Duda or Mark Trumbo will come at a high cost via a trade.
So what will the Rays do? Only time will tell, but they're certainly keeping their options open. As we've seen in the past, Andrew Friedman is among the best in the majors at finding talent when the pickings are scarce, so he's sure to turn up someone....even if it's not a first baseman.