Evan Longoria left tonight’s game with a strained oblique, but said after the game that he hopes to miss a week at the most. The injury raises the first difficult decision of the season for the Rays as there’s a few ways they can go.
The most obvious is to place Longoria on the disabled list and purchase the contract of Felipe Lopez or Casey Kotchman. Lopez would be ideal if the Rays were looking for a true replacement at third base, since Kotchman would simply mean Dan Johnson could play first base. The problem is that neither of those insurance policies can be optioned down without passing through waivers. This may not be an issue for Kotchman, but for Lopez there are teams out there who could use him at third base (the Indians and Marlins come to mind) or second base (the Phillies). A branch to this idea tree is to bring up a player with options, probably Desmond Jennings, since the organization seems eager to have Chirinos develop as a catcher and not as a super utility type.
The Rays could also keep Longoria around and roll shorthanded. This minimizes the time Longoria will miss, but also hurts the team’s bench. Alternatively, the Rays could also option down a player like Andy Sonnanstine, who has options remaining and recall a player with options (Jennings) before bringing Sonnanstine back within a 20-day window. As long as Sonnanstine did not spend additional time in the minors throughout the season (or, at least, enough time to top 20 days) then he would not burn an option. Then again, Sonnanstine being out of options in 2012 isn’t a huge deterrence as it’s possible he’s no longer with the club then. Plus, with this rotation, it just doesn’t seem to be a huge priority.
Frankly, I’m not certain there’s a clear winner to the options available, as is the case when you lose your best player to injury just one-and-a-half games into the season.