For small-market teams in Major League Baseball, most offseason wishes are not a reality. Though there are some players out there that the Rays may be able to afford. With pitchers such as Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann possible trade pieces, the trade market could be the key for the Rays to pick up some hitting. Names that maybe were on the Rays’ radar before are slipping away as the offseason progresses. Carlos Beltran just recently signed with the Cardinals, and others like Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer have also found a team. However, what the Rays need is just one or two good hitters to really bolster their struggling offense. The Rays haven’t found that bat yet, but there are still a few intriguing options out there for them. Take a look at some players the Rays would love to reel in this winter.
Colorado Rockies’ Seth Smith is the newest member of Rays trade rumors. A report from Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi says that the Rays are one of five teams interested in the 29 year-old outfielder. Smith is a solid hitter, who batted .284 and knocked in a career high 59 runs last year. Smith wouldn’t be the guy to fill in the empty DH spot, but he would help out the outfield depth chart. What makes the Seth Smith rumors most interesting, is that there is pretty good odds the Rays will land a deal with him. According to the Denver Post, the Rockies are interested in Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann. Colorado is seeking a No.3-type starter to fill in the rotation, making Davis and Niemann raise eyebrows in Denver. So to recap it all, it’s not a bad chance that Smith plays for the Rays in 2012.
The Rays could get pretty serious about getting prospect first-baseman Anthony Rizzo. After the five-player swap earlier this week, including Yonder Alonso being traded to San Diego, Rizzo immediately hit trade rumors. Sources say that the Cubs and Rays are two teams interested in Rizzo. With the Rays in need of a first baseman, it’s no surprised that they have already asked about Rizzo. I believe that he’s a player that the Rays really need to pick up this offseason. Rizzo played his first season in AAA last year, and put up ridiculous numbers. He exploded in Tucson, batting .331 and hitting 101 RBI’s in just 93 games. He also blasted 26 homers, displaying his terrific power. Rizzo is a guy with a great future in the big leagues, and somebody that would be great to have in the middle of the lineup complementing Longoria and Zobrist. The Padres would be looking for starting pitching in return for Rizzo, so Wade Davis could be used as trade bait. Unfortunately for the Rays, it appears that the Padres and Cubs are checking out a possible trade scenario including sending Matt Garza to San Diego. The Cubs are currently the only competition to get Rizzo, but they are a big obstacle.
Carlos Pena could be a free agent that interests the Rays in the upcoming month. Pena had success in his seasons with the Rays, and there is a possibility they bring him back. Pena batted .225 last year with the Cubs, hitting 28 homers and 80 RBI’s. With his big-time power and terrific defense, Pena could be a perfect fit to replace Casey Kotchman in 2012. The main problem though, is that he’ll probably be looking for a rather expensive multi-year deal. Pena’s agent Scott Boras said that Pena is likely not going to come a bargain price. That means that the odds signing Pena are pretty low. Anyways, acquiring Anthony Rizzo should be the Rays’ main priority. However, if the Rays can’t get a grip on Rizzo, Pena could definitely be a possibility.
Luke Scott is non-tender option that really opens up the eyes of Rays Republic. According to sources, the Rays are interested in the 33 year-old veteran. It’s not a shocker that Scott attracts the Rays, considering how good of a fit he would be. Scott is a slugging outfielder with power, and he can also fill in at DH and first. Not only would Scott look great on the depth chart, he also provides a big left-handed bat in the middle of the lineup. On top of all this, he’s pretty cheap. Last year Scott battled with injuries throughout the season (which is why he comes at a low price), so he didn’t produce his usual offensive numbers. His injuries are a concern, but he should be able to fix some of the Rays’ offensive issues. The chances of the Rays signing Scott are not exactly great, though. According to a tweet from the Baltimore Sun, a total of ten teams are expressing some interest in his services.
Andrew Bailey reportedly is another reliever in the interest of the Rays. The report also says the that the Red Sox and Rangers are checking out the Athletics’ closer. Bailey, who is a former Rookie of the Year (2009), pitched great seasons out of the bullpen for the A’s in both ’09 and ’10. Last year was a rather disappointing season for Bailey, going 0-4 with a career-worst 3.24 ERA. His mediocre 2011 season is probably what triggered Oakland’s idea to use Bailey as trade bait. Even though the Rays are looking for another reliever to add to the ‘pen, it looks like the possibility of Bailey going to Tampa is very slim. While the A’s were dealing Gio Gonzalez to the Nationals last night, Jim Bowden of ESPN reported that the Red Sox could be making a deal for Bailey. At the end of the day, Andrew Bailey is truly more of a wish than a reality.