Barton Rumors Swirl

NASHVILLE–After dealing outfielders Elijah Dukes, Delmon Young and Jason Pridie over the past two weeks, the Rays find themselves in a situation that seemed unthinkable in recent years: the need for outfield depth.

"They went from being completely stacked with outfielders at the big league level and beyond to having the need to address that pretty quickly," said one front office executive from an American League club. "This is an easy, cheap way for them to build it back up again."

Rumors immediately began swirling about Tampa Bay, who has the first pick in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft Thursday, taking Indians outfielder Brian Barton No. 1 overall after the club dealt Dukes to the Nationals for lefthander Glenn Gibson.

The only question about Barton is the health of his right knee. The 25-year-old outfielder had offseason surgery in Miami, but possesses considerable upside regardless.

"Maybe he’s not the type runner he was prior to the surgery," said another AL front office executive. "Maybe he comes back and is the same kind of runner. But he’s got the ability to hit for average, has more pop than a lot of people give him credit, and can defend. He’s a little stiff on balls in on his hands, but you could definitely see him going to Tampa with everything they’ve shipped out."