Finding A Home For Russ Branyan

Inspired by Jack Moore's suggestion that the Rays sign Russell Branyan, I made a list of the best free agents still available. With the possible exception of Bengie Molina -- a durable catcher who's not a terrible hitter (for a catcher) -- it looks to me like Branyan's the most useful guy who's still out there. The Rays, though?

It just doesn't seem like a good fit to me. Moore thinks there's room for Branyan on the roster, even with Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez and Dan Johnson all looking for plate appearances. I just don't see it, not with Johnson and Branyan both lefty hitters and not with Manny needing to play most of the time.

Branyan can hit, though. Over the last three seasons, he's got a .245/.337/.515 line in nearly 1100 plate appearances. Sure, he strikes out a ton and you don't want him facing left-handed pitchers. But if there's not a semi-regular role somewhere for a hitter like Branyan, the game must have changed while I wasn't looking.

Unless there's another explanation. If there really isn't any room for Branyan, it's because almost every team has already filled their first-base and DH slots. What about the Blue Jays, though? Couldn't a DH platoon featuring Branyan and Edwin Encarnacion do some damage?

At the least, Branyan would be a fine bench player for a number of National League clubs. Assuming there's room on the roster, considering those lovely 12-man pitching staffs.

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