The Tampa Bay Rays announced that they have re-signed catcher Mike Zunino to a one year contract after their starter for most of the 2019 season Travis d’Arnaud decided to sign with the Atlanta Braves.
The Rays were in talks with d’Arnaud, but the $16 million dollar two year contract was to good for d”Arnaud to turn down.
d’Arnaud was the biggest surprise offensively on the Rays last season hitting .263 with 16 home runs and 67 runs batted in.
Acquired from the Rays from the Dodgers in May after injuries to Mike Zunino and Michael Perez, d’Arnaud carried this team offensively through some tough games in July and August and helped the Rays make the playoffs.
After the Braves inked d’Arnaud to a two year deal, the Rays moved in quickly to re-sign Mike Zunino. The deal is for one year at $4.5 million dollars with an option for 2021 at $5.35 million.
Zunino was a huge disappointment offensively as he had the worst season of his professional career hitting .165 with nine homers and 32 runs batted in.
GM Erik Neander said that the Rays are confident that Zunino will get his offensive game back and will be much better offensively in 2020.
The best season offensively for Zunino came in 2017 when he hit.251 with 25 home runs.
Zunino who has always been highly regarded as one of the best defensive catchers in baseball had a 34.1 percent caught stealing percentage which was the third best in baseball.
With the Rays signing of Zunino, that means that Michael Perez will be be the back up catcher going into spring training.
Perez injured the majority of last season hit .217 with two homers and drive in 17 runs.
—The Rays also opted not to pick up third basemen Matt Duffy’s contract and Duffy is now a free agent.
The Rays have a lot candidates to take over at third base with Yandy Diaz being the top candidate. Joey Wendle, Daniel Robertson, and Mike Brosseau could also get some time at third.
-Former Rays hitting Derek Shelton was hired today as the new manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Shelton who spent the 2019 season as the bench coach for the Minnesota Twins will have his work cut out for him as the Pirates new manager.
Like the Rays, the Pirates have one of the lowest payrolls in baseball and have had losing season three out of the last four.
Shelton will make his managerial debut in Tampa as the Pirates open the 2020 season at Tropicana field against the Tampa Bay Rays.