Rays Add Gregg Zaun & Russ Springer

Over the weekend Matthew covered the American League East race, meanwhile the Tampa Bay Rays made a few moves to make the last fourth of the season a bit more interesting.

The Rays catching tandem of Dioner Navarro and Michel Hernandez combined for the lowest wOBA in the league at .262 or a .227/.262/.335 line. Enter Gregg Zaun, acquired from the Orioles for cash and a player to be named later, the veteran journeyman is hitting .243/.351/.370 and represents an offensive blizzard compared to the snow globe the Rays were previously trotting out there. If you assume Zaun gets most of the remaining ~200 plate appearances and hits to his ZiPS projection (.321 wOBA) he represents a ~3-4 run improvement over Navarro’s projected performance.

Along with being a patient hitter capable, Zaun has a reputation of being a decent defensive catcher. We don’t attempt to quantify defense, but everyone who has attempted agrees with conventional scouting that Zaun is a good defender minus an iffy throwing arm. Navarro on the other hand has struggled with actually catching the ball at times and questions about his ability to do the small things behind the plate were intensified with Hernandez’ presence. Whether or not the difference is worthwhile or not is just gravy to the offensive upgrade.

As if one veteran addition wasn’t enough, the Rays claimed Russ Springer on waivers and were granted his services on Saturday. Springer comes from Oakland where his 3.39 FIP was surprisingly met with his highest HR/FB% in years. Somehow Springer’s BABIP is .400 despite 60% fly balls. Major league average BABIP on fly balls is .138 while Springer’s is .174. His groundballs and line drives are becoming hits more often than league average as well, but he’s heading to a team loaded with stout outfield defenders like Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton, and Gabe Gross. For some reason I don’t see that BABIP sticking the rest of the way.

Neither move is going to catapult the Rays over the Red Sox or Yankees, but they’ve been super active on the waiver wire for the second consecutive year. Who says the acquisition madness ends on July 31st?




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7 Responses to “Rays Add Gregg Zaun & Russ Springer”

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  1. barack obama says:

    even with zaun and russ springer the rays still s.uck

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  2. evan longoria says:

    I AGREE

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  3. Mike says:

    Settle a bet for me (off-topic):

    I hear some O’s fans saying that Tampa could salary-dump Iwamura to the O’s as the PTBNL in the Zaun deal. Forget whether TB would do that (please, I know it doesn’t make much sense…but that’s not the point of my question). Is it true that a PTBNL has to change leagues in a trade? Iwamura is on the ML DL and even though he might be on a MiL rehab assignment, he’s an American leaguer. He couldn’t be a PTBNL for a trade with the Orioles anyway, by rule…..right?

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  4. Mike Fast says:

    Springer hurt his arm on May 20 but tried to pitch through it. You can see it in his performance in late May: 4 appearances, 2 innings, 11 hits, 9 runs allowed. The 11-for-13 on balls in play during that stretch raises his BABIP for the season by over 50 points.

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  5. chuckb says:

    Zaun, strangely, is a pretty big improvement from the fodder the Rays have been sentenced w/ so far this season. If he’s a 3-4 run improvement offensively, he’s probably a 3-4 run improvement defensively as well. It’s hard to believe that w/ all the names tossed around at the trade deadline, a team in a pennant race could add Greg Zaun and add 1 win but there’s a pretty good chance that happens here. Nice addition.

    Also, as a Cards’ fan who thought they should have resigned Springer this offseason, or at least offered him arbitration, I think they made a good addition there as well. He’s tough on righties and can get a K when they need it. Considering all the righty relievers the Cards have traded in the last few months, and the fact that they’re forced to use Kyle McClellan and Jason Motte from the right side before getting the ball to Franklin, I wonder if La Russa wouldn’t like to have Russ Springer to turn to in the 7th or 8th right now.

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