For the second consecutive day, I’m talking about the Rays infield. Yesterday it was the addition of Adam Kennedy via minor league contract, and today it’s Willy Aybar signing an extension. The exact terms are two years and 2.3 million with a club option for a third year and a few escalators thrown in that could make Aybar’s deal worth 6 million. Frankly, that looks like a pretty good deal for the Rays.
A while back I evaluated Aybar’s value, saying he’s a ~1.5 win player on the Rays and likely a ~2.5 win player elsewhere simply based on the playing time he’ll be robbed of on a loaded team. That put his projected first year of arbitration value at 2.7 million, and somehow the Rays are getting him at 2.3 million for not only this year, but an additional season as well.
The question becomes, how in the world are the Rays going to find playing time for Aybar? Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria have the corner infield positions on lockdown. The addition of Pat Burrell should take away the option of Aybar acting as the team’s designated hitter on certain days unless the Rays do something silly like play Burrell in the field. Last year, Aybar saw time in place of the injured Pena and Longoria, even starting the season as the Rays third baseman before a hamstring injury struck him down.
There’s a chance Aybar could get some reps in the middle infield as well, but otherwise one of Joe Maddon’s toughest assignments this year will be finding consistent playing time for Aybar. When finding playing time for a ~1.5-2 win player is one of your so-called toughest assignments, you know you’re running a good team.