Kiermaier is potentially more expendable than in past years now that the Rays have acquired Manuel Margot and Randy Arozarena, Josh Tolentino of The Athletic reports. Tolentino runs through five Rays that, for a variety of reasons, particularly have something to prove in a potential 2020 season. With Kiermaier, it's both his upcoming salaries and the team's expanded outfield options that qualify him for the list. The 30-year-old Gold Glove outfielder is slated for salaries of $11.6 million and $12.6 million in the 2021 and 2022 seasons, respectively, and six big-league seasons in, he's still trying to be as consistent with the bat as with his stellar glove. Tolentino notes Margot is also an impressive defensive asset, while Arozarena has excellent speed and was outstanding offensively in three of his last four minor-league seasons within the Cardinals organization. The combination of factors do lend credence to the notion that the team has options if it were to receive an attractive offer for Kiermaier, but working in his favor for the moment is that neither of the aforementioned potential replacements have yet had the opportunity to prove themselves in Tampa outside of a small Grapefruit League sample this year.
Kiermaier has remained in the Port Charlotte area during the current suspension of spring training and is using a variety of methods to remain in shape, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The Platinum Glove outfielder has been using rubber resistance bands to perform assorted stretching exercises and for creative movements such as baseball bat biceps curls. Kiermaier is also working on his legs by jumping on concrete blocks, so he's essentially trying to stick to a comprehensive, full-body workout without the benefit of a gym/training facility. Like the rest of his teammates, the 29-year-old is hoping to soon find himself in a ramp-up period to the delayed regular season.
Kiermaier was hitting just .125 (3-for-24) with two doubles, three RBI, two walks and four runs across 10 Grapefruit League games before spring training was suspended. The Platinum Glove outfielder entered camp looking forward to implementing changes to his stance and swing he'd made in the offseason, but as his line indicates, those have yet to pay dividends. Even with the unsightly spring numbers, Kiermaier's starting center field job is far from endangered thanks to his elite defense. Nevertheless, the Rays would certainly welcome improvement on last season's .228/.278/.398 line (480 plate appearances).
Kiermaier, who made some changes to his stance and swing this offseason, has been consistently driving the ball to the opposite field in his first few batting practice sessions, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports. The multi-time Gold Glover made a point of addressing his offense this offseason in an effort to significantly outperform his career .249 average in 2020. Toribio reported last week the 29-year-old worked diligently with a coach from another major-league team on both body positioning and control in the batter's box this winter, with the express purpose of learning to use all fields consistently. The new approach has apparently paid early dividends, although spring training, and ultimately, the regular season, will serve as a more accurate barometer.
Kiermaier is not in Saturday's lineup against the Blue Jays. He is hitting .137 with one home run and zero steals in 18 games this month. Guillermo Heredia is starting in center field and batting ninth.