Rays Notes: Hess, Kiermaier, First Basemen

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Right-hander David Hess announced back in October that a cancerous germ cell tumor had been discovered in his chest, and he would be undergoing chemotherapy treatments to address the issue.  Fortunately, Hess provided a great update on his condition yesterday on Twitter, saying that he had “been ’cured’ and cleared for all activity!  There’s a spot that we’re watching but expect to clear in a few weeks.  I can’t thank everyone enough for the prayers, support, and love through this.  Time to get back to work and on a mound hopefully soon.”

A veteran of four MLB seasons, Hess joined the Rays on a minor league contract back in August and appeared in one Major League game for the team, while also twice being designated for assignment and then outrighted off the 40-man roster.  Hess elected free agency after the season but rejoined the Rays on another minors deal in November.  With this health scare now hopefully behind him, the 28-year-old Hess can now refocus on baseball and look to win a bullpen job in Spring Training.

More from the Rays…

  • Reports just prior to the lockout indicated that the Rays were getting trade interest in both Kevin Kiermaier and Joey Wendle, and Wendle indeed ended up being swapped to the Marlins.  As Kiermaier tells Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times, Rays president of baseball operations Erik Neander took the step of calling the center fielder on the evening of December 1 to inform Kiermaier of this trade interest, even if Neander didn’t think a deal would be completed before the lockout began at midnight.  Between the uncertainty of the lockout and the distinct possibility that he could still get traded, it’s “wild times right now,” Kiermaier said.  Any number of teams might represent trade matches for Kiermaier as the defensive standout enters the final guaranteed year of his contact, and retaining Kiermaier might not be preferable for the Rays, given the $14.5MM still owed on that deal.  Injury concerns are a factor in any Kiermaier trade discussion, and on that front, he told Topkin that he is recovered from his arthroscopic knee surgery from early November.
  • Could a Kiermaier trade involve the Rays acquiring a right-handed bat?  Topkin writes that Tampa’s “top post-lockout priority seems to be a right-handed hitter who can play first base, and not necessarily a proven big-leaguer.”  Yandy Diaz currently sits as the right-handed hitting side of the first base platoon with Ji-Man Choi, though with Diaz also needed at third base, obtaining another first base-capable player would only add to the roster depth.  Even if that player is lacking in experience, that hasn’t stopped the Rays in the past — Diaz himself had only 299 Major League plate appearances to his name when Tampa Bay acquired him from Cleveland in the 2018-19 offseason.

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