It’s not a sure thing, but the signs point the Kevin Kiermeier being an X-Ray next season.
It’s been a rough go for the Rays in terms of the IL this season. Indeed, they lead the majors in terms of how many players they have out due to injury. Kiermeier is one of those players, out for the remainder of the season after undergoing arthroscopic acetabular labrum surgery this week. That they are above .500 on the season anyway is a testament to their depth. That depth is part of why I think Kiermeier will not be back. The Rays have a $13M option on him for next year, and a $2.5M buyout if they do not exercise that option. The depth means the always budget conscious Rays have other cheaper options for center field.
He is an average hitter, at best, through most of his career. His value has always been primarily with his glove. After two years with hip injuries, it’s reasonable to wonder if his range in the outfield will now suffer. Certainly his longevity in the majors would likely benefit from no longer playing his home games on artificial turf.
Next year will be his ninth in the bigs. The Rays have never in their 24 years kept a player long enough for him to earn 10/5 rights. If they do bring back Kiermeier, call me cynical if you want, it will likely be to try to show a return to health and then use him as trade bait. My money is on a friendly parting of the ways this offseason.