AP Photo/ Chris O’Meara
) The Tampa Bay Rays have turned down their $13 million option for veteran center fielder Kevin Kiermeier.
USA TODAY‘s Bob Netenger pointed out that the St. Louis Cardinals have shown interest in Kiermeier in the past, and could potentially attack him. The 32-year-old is a free agent, and with his defensive record there’s bound to be a market. He’s a three-time Golden Glove winner and one of MLB’s top defenders at any position. MLB @ MLB
Kevin Kilmeier is up! 😱 pic.twitter.com/2jhnVAiIrq
“I’m in a unique position where my defensive skills are, I’m never going to shy away from that,” he said in 2021 years told reporters. “I believe I’m the best defensive outfielder in the game. I’ll play with anyone and I’m confident when I say that.”
However, Kiermeier’s staying power and attacking ability — or lack thereof — reduces his value.
He has only crossed the 150-game threshold once since 2014 and has averaged 108 appearances per season — no Including the shortened 2020 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021, he was sidelined with a quadriceps strain and then again with a left wrist sprain. Last season, a hip injury required season-ending surgery in August.
Even if Kiermeier completes his 162-race schedule in 2023, his contribution to the plate May be limited. During his career, he had an OPS of 0.715 and 98 OPS+ according to Baseball Reference. Among qualifying hitters since 2014, he ranks 343rd in wOBA (.308) on FanGraphs.
Change the swing or adjust their approach in the batter’s box. Josh Donaldson is a prime example of the former, while Marcus Semien is of the latter.
For Kilmeier, the ship seems to have sailed into a completely different hitter. Any possible breakthrough will come now.
Despite glaring flaws, Kiermeier sees him as an attractive contender target needs Defensive upgrades in the outfield.