As the 2012 trade deadline swiftly passed, the Rays were surprisingly one of the more quiet teams. They made only one trade, and still decided not to deal any of their starting pitching surplus.
Although there was very little action in Tampa’s front office, they did bolster the team’s lineup and defense to some extent when they acquired third baseman Ryan Roberts in a trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The deal was a smart one and pretty much a bargain; they traded minor league 2B Tyler Bortnick—who’ll likely never be an effective Major Leaguer— in exchange for the 31-year-old.
With Evan Longoria out the Rays did fill in one empty hole by picking up Roberts. Longo is returning to the lineup soon, but it could be a while before he’s able to play third base again, which is why I think the Roberts deal was an important move. The Rays’ other options at third are not as good and have really hurt the infield’s defense in the past.
Besides for the defensive upgrade, Roberts will likely improve the Rays’ offense as well. He’s not exactly a consistent base-hitter who hits for a good (or even decent) average, but he has some pop in his right-handed bat and can be an x-factor in the lineup at times.
The third base hole may be covered now, but I felt like the Rays missed out on a good opportunity to add a much-needed catcher to the roster. Kurt Suzuki, Ramon Hernandez and Geovany Soto were three catchers who were on the trade market at the deadline. The Red Sox were also looking to move a backstop having three on their roster (Shoppach, Lavarnway, Saltalamacchia).
Considering the Rays’ major issues at the catching position I really wanted to see the Rays pick up a catcher at the deadline. The Rays’ catchers (Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton) together have combined for a .206 average, 28 RBI and five home runs. So even mediocre catchers like some of the names above may have been an upgrade for the Rays.
Hopefully the Rays won’t regret that, but one decision that they will more likely regret is not trading for Marco Scutaro. Scutaro was dealt from the Rockies to the Giants in a deal that the Rays probably could have made. San Francisco received the 36-year-old and cash considerations in exchange for one prospect infielder who isn’t even considered a top-ten prospect in most organizations.
Scutaro’s .277/.330/.365 line is definitely better than Elliot Johnson’s .250/.316/.348 line or Sean Rodriguez’s awful .206/.269/.322 line. He’s also as good or better defensively than the two, and can cover third base and second base as well as shortstop. The Rays obviously have big problems at the shortstop position and acquiring Scutaro would probably fix them short-term. He’s a versatile infielder who gets on base and hits better than both of the Rays’ options at short.
Another decision I think the Rays could regret is not trading away an arm like Wade Davis or Alex Torres. It’s pretty clear that the Rays are in desperate need of offensive help, and it’s also pretty clear that Alex Torres doesn’t seem to have a bright future at all and Rays don’t really count on Wade Davis that often when the game’s on the line. Therefore, I didn’t really see the logic of the Rays not dealing at least one of these two.
Davis has done a very good job in the Rays’ bullpen this year, but he’s simply not a crucial part of the ‘pen and isn’t often used in high leverage situations. According to BaseballReference.com, only eight of his 35 appearances were considered to be high leverage situations, while 18 of them were low leverage. Also worthy of mentioning, prospect Alex Colome looks to be on track for a late season call-up and could have what it takes to replace at the long reliever position.
As for Torres, well, he’s just a guy the Rays probably want to get rid of. He has had a horrendous 2012 season, posting an 8.07 ERA with Triple-A Durham.
In conclusion, I think it’s safe to say that the Rays were a little too quiet at the 2012 trade deadline. It was nice to see them not sell and hang on to some big names like James Shields and B.J. Upton, but it was also a bit disappointing to see them not bolster the offense like many of us hoped they would.