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The Opener: Rays, Correa, Rodriguez


As the 2023 season nears its conclusion, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:

1. Rays Stadium Announcement Incoming:

Yesterday, it was reported that the Rays are poised to announce an agreement to build a new stadium in St. Petersburg. That announcement is expected to come today, and with it more details on the coming ballpark can be expected. The stadium is expected to be ready in 2028, the year after Tampa Bay’s lease at Tropicana Field expires. The off-the-field victory for the club comes as the team on the field is enjoying an unprecedented run of success, with a 92-59 record so far this season and a fifth consecutive postseason berth clinched. With the Rays on the verge of settling their stadium situation and the A’s putting the finishing touches on a bid to move from Oakland to Las Vegas, the biggest hurdle for league expansion that commissioner Rob Manfred has publicly mentioned in the past has been cleared. Of course, expansion must be collectively bargained with the MLBPA, meaning there are still hurdles to clear before MLB welcomes its thirty-first and thirty-second teams.

2. Correa Exits:

Twins shortstop Carlos Correa exited yesterday’s game in the first inning after feeling a “pop” in his left heel, as relayed by The Athletic’s Dan Hayes. Correa, of course, has been playing through plantar fasciitis during most of the 2023 campaign. The injury has seemingly impacted the 28-year-old star at the plate, as he’s slashed just .230/.312/.399 in 135 games while leading the majors with 30 double plays grounded into. As Hayes notes, the Twins and Correa have opted against a trip to the injured list throughout the season because a full recovery would require several months of downtime.

That sort of lengthy absence would have been imprudent with the Twins in the midst of a tight race for the AL Central crown throughout most of the season. Though the club hasn’t yet mathematically clinched the division title, Minnesota enjoys a comfortable seven-game lead over the Guardians in the division with just 11 games left to play and none of them being head-to-head. That healthy lead in the division race could lead the club to contemplate a trip to the IL for Correa or, at the very least, resting their marquee shortstop more aggressively in the days ahead in order to help him stay reasonably fresh for the coming postseason push.

3. Rodriguez to undergo testing:

Tigers left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez exited yesterday’s 8-3 loss against the Dodgers in the fourth inning due to what the club has termed a scapula spasm. Over three innings of work last night, Rodriguez surrendered five runs on five hits and a walk while striking out just one. As noted by Chris McCosky of The Detroit News, the lefty is expected to undergo further testing before being re-evaluated today. While the coming update won’t have much impact on Tigers club that’s on the verge of being mathematically eliminated from the postseason, Rodriguez’s health could impact him as he looks ahead toward a likely return to free agency this coming November, having the ability to opt out of the three years left on his contract. With a strong 3.57 ERA and 3.65 FIP across 24 starts this season, the 30-year-old Rodriguez figures to rank fairly highly among starting options on the market this offseason, though it’s possible an injury that runs the risk of impacting him headed into 2024 could alter that perception.

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