September 26, 2021

AL Notes: Zunino, Rangers, Apostel, Cole, Boras (MLB Trade Rumors)

The Rays made the gutsy decision to bet on a bounceback from catcher Mike Zunino in 2020, opting to avoid arb with the former Gator via a $4.5MM deal while Travis d’Arnaud headed for richer pastures in Atlanta. Zunino has never been what one would call a complete hitter, but 2019 represented a personal low from a performance standpoint, with the former top draftee managing just a .165/.232/.312 (45 wRC+) output through 289 plate appearances. Now, the likelihood of a Zunino rebound at the plate may rest on the work of hitting coach Chad Mottola, suggests Josh Tolentino of The Athletic (link).

As Tolentino notes, Mottola was instrumental in helping d’Arnaud find offensive consistency and also helped pull shortstop Willy Adames out of an early-season funk in 2019. Zunino’s real value will likely always lie with the glove (he did record 8.3 Fielding Runs Above Average in limited work in 2019, per Baseball Prospectus), but a return to his 2017 levels (126 wRC+ and 25 homers in 124…

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