Zunino is set to open an abbreviated 2020 season as the starting catcher, but he likely needs to show marked improvement at the plate if the Rays are to pick up his 2021 option, Josh Tolentino of The Athletic reports.
Zunino's .165/.232/.312 line across 289 plate appearances last season ranked as one of the worst in all of baseball, but the Rays still opted to bring him back on a one-year, $4.5 million deal for 2020. However, while Zunino's No. 3 ranking in defensive runs saved (10) last season and command of the team's pitching staff give him considerable value, Tolentino speculates he'll eventually have to provide more offensive contributions in order to hang onto his roster spot over the long term. Even Zunino's playing time in what would be an abbreviated 2020 season could be in danger if he doesn't get off to a good start offensively, considering manager Kevin Cash will likely have the luxury of holding on to Kevan Smith, Michael Perez and Chris Herrmann due to expanded rosters and a potentially sizable practice squad.
Zunino has a firm hold on the starting catcher job despite having struggled at the plate both last season and this spring, Josh Tolentino of The Athletic reports.
The slugging catcher re-upped with the Rays this offseason on a one-year, $4.5 million deal, but he came into spring camp looking to lay a foundation for significant improvement after a mostly forgettable 2019 debut campaign in Tampa. Zunino slashed just .165/.232/.312 and generated a mammoth 33.9 percent strikeout rate over 289 plate appearances last season, and he followed it up by hitting .158 (3-for-19) over nine Grapefruit League contests before spring training was suspended. Nevertheless, Tolentino feels Zunino will still open the season as the primary catcher, with one of Michael Perez, Chris Herrmann and Kevan Smith set to back him up.
Zunino, who slugged a three-run home run in a Grapefruit League win over the Twins on Sunday for his first round tripper of spring, made adjustments to his hitting approach this offseason, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports.
Zunino endured the worst offensive campaign of his career in his first Rays season in 2019, posting a .165 average. The veteran catcher worked on aspects such as body positioning in the batter's box and shortening his swing this offseason in an attempt to cut down on last year's 33.9 percent strikeout rate. Zunino still has one whiff in each of his first four spring training games, so he definitely remains a work in progress; however, he seems to have a firm grasp on the starting catcher job to open the season, although he'll presumably need to produce more offensively over the long term in order to hold off veteran Kevan Smith and/or Michael Perez for playing time.
Zunino and the Rays agreed to a one-year, $4.5 million contract Monday, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports.
The deal reportedly comes with an option year. After losing Travis d'Arnaud to the Braves in free agency, the Rays are betting on a bounceback season from Zunino. It will have to be quite a significant one, as he hit just .165/.232/.312 in 90 games last season.
Zunino went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run in a 5-0 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday.
Any owners in leagues deep enough to make Zunino a regular starting option won't be surprised that his second hit of the last week was a homer. Since the beginning of August, Zunino has gone deep with four of his 10 hits. He's also batting just .200 during that stretch. Overall, Zunino is hitting .172 with nine home runs, 32 RBI and 29 runs in 250 at-bats this season.
Zunino went 1-for-3 with a two-run single, a walk and a run in a win over the Orioles on Friday.
Zunino enjoyed some rare success out of the bottom of the order, extending the Rays' lead to 3-0 with his timely second-inning single. The slugging backstop is actually experiencing a relatively productive August when going by the lowly standard he's set this season, as he's knocked in nine runs partly on the strength of three home runs and is hitting over. 200 (.212) in a month for the first time since April.
Zunino went 1-for-4 with a three-run homer in Saturday's 5-4 win over the Mariners.
Zunino made a huge impact with the go-ahead blast in the fifth inning against his former team. The catcher is up to eight home runs with 26 RBI and 25 runs scored in 67 games this season. He's still expected to ride the pine behind Travis d'Arnaud despite producing three homers and six RBI in six August games.
Zunino went 1-for-3 with a two-run home run and a walk Wednesday against the Blue Jays.
Zunino was one of the few sources of offense for the Rays, taking Ken Giles deep in the ninth inning. It was his seventh home run of the season, though his second in his last four starts. Despite the recent signs of life, Zununo is hitting just .175/.242/.330 across 231 plate appearances for the season.
Zunino went 2-for-3 with a solo home run, two runs scored and two walks during Thursday's 9-4 win over the Red Sox.
Zunino entered Thursday with just one hit in his previous 10 games, but it would have been hard to tell from his final line. He worked a pair of walks and added a base knock before capping off his day with a solo home run in the eighth inning. Zunino still owns a lackluster .560 OPS on the season and will continue to lose playing time to Travis d'Arnaud if he doesn't generate more efforts like this.
Zunino is out of the lineup for Sunday's game against the Blue Jays, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Zunino will sit for the second time in three days as the red-hot Travis d'Arnaud receives the nod behind the plate. D'Arnaud's ability to play first base presents a path for both players to enter the lineup simultaneously, but it's clear that Zunino's hold on the No. 1 catching job isn't nearly as solid as it was entering the season. Zunino continues to draw high marks as a receiver, but he's enduring a tough year at the plate, batting just .168 with only five home runs across 212 plate appearances.
Zunino is out of the lineup for Friday's game at Toronto.
Zunino started the last three contests but will take a seat for Friday's series opener. Travis d'Arnaud will take over behind the plate and bat cleanup in his stead.
Zunino is not in Sunday's lineup against the White Sox.
He has sat every other day over the last 16 games, and is hitting .120 with 10 strikeouts in 25 at-bats over that stretch. Travis d'Arnaud will start behind the dish and hit eighth.
Zunino is not starting Friday against the White Sox.
Zunino has hit just .108/.195/.270 over his last 12 games. Travis d'Arnaud starts behind the plate in his absence.
Zunino is out of the lineup for the first game of Thursday's doubleheader with the Yankees, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports.
Travis d'Arnaud will work behind the dish in the front end of the twin bill, but expect Zunino to catch for Charlie Morton in the nightcap. Zunino has been alternating turns at catcher with d'Arnaud for most of July and may see his playing-time outlook suffer further with the red-hot d'Arnaud batting 11-for-25 with four home runs and two doubles over his last six starts.
Zunino is not in the lineup Wednesday against the Yankees, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Zunino has started three of six games behind the dish since the All-Star break, going 1-for-9 with a solo home run during those appearances. Travis d'Arnaud is starting at catcher and hitting seventh Wednesday.
Zunino is out of the lineup for Monday's game against the Yankees.
He'll cede catching duties to Travis d'Arnaud as the Rays and Yankees open up a four-game set in New York. Zunino drew two starts over the weekend during the Rays' series in Baltimore, going 1-for-6 with a solo home run.
Zunino is not in the lineup for Game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader against the Orioles, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
He will sit in the nightcap after starting in Game 1 and going 1-for-3 with a solo home run, the 100th homer of his career. Travis d'Arnaud will start behind the dish and bat third.
Zunino is out of the lineup for Friday's game against the Orioles, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Zunino is 3-for-25 with 10 strikeouts over his last eight games, so he'll start out the second half of the season on the bench. Travis d'Arnaud takes over behind the plate for the Rays, and the pair have now alternated catching duties in the last six contests.
Zunino went 1-for-2 with a solo home run and a walk in an extra-innings loss to the Yankees on Friday.
Zunino slugged his fourth homer of the campaign off Masahiro Tanaka in the fifth inning, which actually marked his first time leaving the yard since May 3. A stint on the injured list due to a quadriceps issue did have a role to play in that drought, but it's still been a highly underwhelming first Rays season for Zunino. The veteran backstop is slashing an abysmal .186/.240/.329 across 179 plate appearances, and even though he's posting his lowest strikeout rate (30.2 percent) since his rookie 2013 campaign, it's nevertheless an unsightly figure that's playing a large part in his struggles.
Zunino is out of the lineup for Thursday's game against the Yankees.
Zunino started the past three games behind the dish and will just be receiving some routine maintenance while Travis d'Arnaud handles the catching duties in the series opener. The Rays' top backstop went 2-for-11 in the three-game set versus Baltimore earlier this week, which actually amounts to progress on the offensive end. Since returning from the 10-day injured list May 31, Zunino is batting .135 while striking out in 36.3 percent of his plate appearances.
|10/10/2019 vs Houston|
|vs Buchholz (Career)||10||2||2||.800||.200||.200|
|Last 7 Games|
|Complete Game Log|
|More Batting Stats|
|Minor League Batting Stats|
|2019||AFA-Charlotte Stone Crab||2||6||3||3||1||0||0||1||2||3||0||0||.500||.625||.667|