3. Rays: Kevin Kiermaier
Every rival AL East fan will celebrate the moment Kevin Kiermaier is traded out of the division. A tremendous athlete, Kiermaier is a hothead and loves to brag about his defensive abilities. Yes, he’s among the best defensive center fielders we’ve seen in recent years, but we don’t need to hear about it from the source. He’s managed to become an unlikable figure among all of the division rivals.
Now, with his contract extension in its final guaranteed year (he has a $13 million team option with a $2.5 million buyout in 2023), the Rays are reportedly looking to trade him, which will save them $14.67 million. Classic Rays move. They just did it with Blake Snell. They traded Joey Wendle in November as his arbitration salaries were set to escalate. They will find someone else and plug them into the Tampa Machine — baseball’s version of Westworld.
Again, $25 million total for Kiermaier over the next two seasons might be “expensive” for the Rays, but other teams would gladly pay that price for upper echelon defense and live with his below-average bat, which largely suffered from 2018-2020 to bring his career totals way down.
Like Grichuk, Kiermaier is an inexplicable Yankee killer. The man has just 75 career homers to his name and has 13 against New York (the most he has against any team). Good riddance (please).