Since the offseason began, rumors have swirled about the possibility of the Rays trading away some of their excellent starting pitching. With Matt Moore appearing to join Tampa’s rotation this season, it looks like the Rays will have a surplus of starters in 2011. Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann, will for the fifth spot in the rotation in the spring, are two players that could very possibility be traded before deadline this summer. Last year’s ace James Shields has also been in the discussion, as teams have been interested in his services for a while now. Although the Rays have filled in their main roster holes via free agency this offseason, it’s still pretty likely that the Rays will seek a trade. Most of the offseason’s action is over, but the trade possibilities have not exactly faded. Recently, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Rays’ president Matt Silverman said he isn’t finished looking to trade away a starter. Considering how much sense it makes for the Rays to trade away pitching in exchange for offense, it’s no surprise that the front office is mulling this over. When a team lacks hitting and has a surplus of pitching, a trade is the obvious solution. Let’s take a look at eight possible deals that could get the Rays to trade away starting pitching. The bats on the trade market are limited, but there still are some intriguing possibilities for the Rays.
The Toronto Blue Jays are one team that would love to add to their starting pitching this offseason. Toronto’s rotation had their struggles last season, which is why a trade for Wade Davis could possibly light up their eyes. Most of what the Jays have to offer is down in their farm system. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria are two young players that should interest the Rays. Both are part of Toronto’s top 10 prospect list in 2011 (according to MLB.com). Blue Jays’ top prospect and former first-round pick Travis d’Arnaud is one exciting young prospect. The 22 year-old hit .311 with 78 RBI’s in 21 homers in Class AA New Hampshire last season. With impressive skills both offensively and defensively, d’Arnaud has the potential to be a successful big league catcher. A good backstop is something the Rays will be needing in the future, as their 36 year-old acquisition Jose Molina was only signed for a one-year deal. Because of the emergence of the young J.P. Arencibia, it is possible the Jays will think about trading d’Arnaud soon. According to sources, the Philadelphia Phillies have actually discussed obtaining d’Arnaud earlier this offseason. Adding prospect shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to the mix would really make a great deal for the Rays here. Shortstop is another area of need for the Rays, which should make Hechavarria pretty attractive. The 22 year-old Cuban-native batted .305 with 57 RBI’s and 20 stolen bases in the minors last year (AA and AAA).
Possible Trade: Wade Davis to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for minor league C Travis d’Arnaud and minor league SS Adeiny Hechavarria
Although the Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t made any big moves for starting pitching in recent years, they may have the pieces to put together a potential deal with the Rays. Young outfielder Jose Tabata and former All-Star relief pitcher Evan Meek should be able to get the Rays to discuss a four-player swap. The Pirates would get Jeff Niemann and prospect starter Alex Torres, who went 9-7 with a 3.08 ERA and 156 strikeouts last year during his season with AAA Durham. Tabata would be a great guy for the Rays to pick up, as he seems to have a bright future in the MLB. However, it’s very unlikely that the Pirates would give away Tabata, especially after the huge contract extension he received this August. The 23 year-old leftfielder had a rather dissapointing 2011, after a pretty impressive rookie season. Tabata batted .299 with 121 hits and 19 stolen bases through his 102 games in 2010. He saw a decline last season, batting .266 through his 91 games. Still, Tabata is a talented player who could easily develop as a star in the big leagues. Make no mistake, this is one guy the Rays would love to have in leftfield. The Rays have done a lot of work this winter continuing to build their young bullpen. Right-handed reliever Evan Meek is somebody the Rays would love to add to their ‘pen, even if it’s worth giving up a prospect like Torres. Meek’s career stats include a 3.08 ERA and 7-7 record through four seasons (160.2 innings pitched).
Possible Trade: Jeff Niemann and Alex Torres to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for LF Jose Tabata and RP Evan Meek
Here’s a trade that’s a great idea for the Rays, as well as a win-win for both sides. Ryan Hanigan is exactly what the Rays need. He’s a catcher who’s consistent, has a high on-base percentage, and a very reasonable salary. Hanigan owns a career line .275/.371/.368. It’s nothing special and he doesn’t produce many runs, but his good defense and ability to get on base is something that must attract the Rays. As for Cincinnati’s point of view; they definitely get their end of the deal here. Alex Cobb is an underrated pitching prospect, and he’s proved that he can succeed at the big league level. Cobb went 3-2 with a 3.42 ERA in his brief MLB stint last season. He also went 5-1 with a terrific 1.87 ERA at AAA Durham. This is a move the Rays need to continue to pursue. If the Rays want Ryan Hanigan, the chances of them working out a deal is not bad at all. The Reds will probably not be too hesitant to send their veteran catcher to Tampa, as they may have a franchise catcher in the making. Reds’ top prospect Devin Mesoraco could possibly take over the catching spot pretty soon, potentially making Hanigan a possible trade piece for Cincinnati. Interestingly, Hanigan was almost dealt to the Rays earlier this offseason. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Rays discussed trading for Seth Smith (who was on the Colorado Rockies then) and then sending him to Cincinnati in exchange for Hanigan. Even before that, ESPN’s David Schoenfield mentioned his name in article about trades he thought were reasonable. So if Hanigan does end up in Tampa Bay, nobody should be too surprised.
Possible Trade: Alex Cobb and C Robinson Chirinos to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for C Ryan Hanigan
Unfortunately for the Mets, they haven’t been able to add to their struggling pitching staff during their miserable offseason. Here’s a four-player deal that would make sense for both sides. The Rays did find their first baseman when the picked up Carlos Pena earlier this month, but it still could be an area of need in the future. Mets’ first baseman Daniel Murphy may not get much attention at all, but he’s a perfect fit in Tampa. The 26 year-old is a career .292 hitter (.320 in last year), and he’s even shown he has some pop in his bat during his three big league seasons. Murphy could be a serious trade target for the Rays in the future, as he probably doesn’t have a future with the Mets. Ike Davis seems to be emerging into a quality baseball player in New York, and it looks as if he’ll become their everyday first baseman. It shouldn’t shock anybody if the Rays pursue this guy in the future. Wilmer Flores, who is one of the top prospects in the Mets’ organization, is another player that I could imagine the Rays would like in the trade package. Being a shortstop, the 20 year-old would be a great addition to the Rays’ farm system. Although Flores hasn’t done that much statistically yet in the minors, scouts seem to be convinced that this youngster has what it takes to succeed.
Possible Trade: Jeff Niemann and Alex Cobb to the New York Mets in exchange for 1B Daniel Murphy, and minor league SS Wilmer Flores
This trade is very simple, yet very effective. I don’t see anything wrong with a Davis-Trumbo trade. Since Albert Pujols is now the first baseman in Anaheim, Trumbo’s future with the Angels is questionable. Trumbo himself has already acknowledged the fact that he may be traded. The question is, would the Angels be interested in one of the Rays’ starters? Right now it looks like their five-man rotation is set to go. However, I think Davis could actually give an already great rotation a boost. The Angels don’t have a solid starter in the fifth spot, and there’s a good chance that Davis can put up better numbers than Ervin Santana (fourth spot) this season. From the Rays’ side of things, Trumbo would obviously be a terrific acquisition. The 26 year-old has all the tools to become a big-time slugger in the majors. Trumbo had an outstanding rookie season, finishing second in the Rookie of the Year voting. He smacked 29 dingers and drove in 87 runs, showing off some raw power.If the Rays want a long-term first baseman, Mark Trumbo is their answer.
Possible Trade: Wade Davis to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for 1B Mark Trumbo
Mitch Moreland could potentially be another first base option for the Rays. He may not be the same type of player as Trumbo, but he sure does know how to hit. In his first full season last year, Moreland put up a .259/.320/.414 line including 16 homers and 51 RBI’s. He’s also pretty good defensively at first, even though he doesn’t play the position everyday. With catcher Mike Napoli very capable of playing first, it seems likely that he’ll get a lot of playing time their this year. That means that Moreland’s name may soon pop up in trade rumors. It will be interesting to see if the Rangers negotiate with the Rays, as Texas would love to strengthen their starting rotation. Minor League outfielder Jake Skole is the another piece that could complete a trade package for Davis. The first-round draftee excites scouts with his excellent athletic ability. At just 20, he hasn’t done that much yet statistically speaking. Skole batted .264 with nine homers, 62 RBI’s, and 21 stolen bases during his season at Class A ball last year.
Possible Trade: Wade Davis to the Texas Rangers in exchange for 1B Mitch Moreland and minor league outfielder Jake Skole
The Kansas City Royals could really use one of the Rays’ starting pitchers. They actually offered a deal for James Shields back in the Winter Meetings. They might not have what it takes to bring Shields to Kansas City, but they probably could work out a trade for Jeff Niemann. For Shields the Royals offered closer Joakim Soria, their top prospect, and prospect Christian Colon. For Niemann, the Royals could offer Soria and prospect Clint Robinson to make a deal. The Rays would love to add a solid closer like Soria to their ‘pen. The future of the closer role is very questionable, as Kyle Farnsworth will be a free agent after the 2012 season. Soria owns a career ERA of 2.40 and 160 saves (162 game average of 37). He had the worst season of his career last year, but he’s still an effective closer. It wouldn’t be a shocker if Soria is traded, as his name has come up multiple times in trade rumors. First baseman Clint Robinson is one of top position prospects in the Royals’ farm system. The 26 year-old left-handed slugger is putting up huge numbers in minor leagues. Last year in AAA Omaha, Robinson posted a .326/.399/.533 line while blasting 23 home runs and 100 RBI’s. With Kansas City’s young star Eric Hosmer appearing to be their future first baseman, it’s possible that Robinson could end up as a trade piece for the Royals.
Possible Trade: Jeff Niemann to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for RP Joakim Soria and minor league 1B Clint Robinson.
The Orioles have been looking to upgrade their starting pitching for a while now, and a trade may be the best way to find their man. Adam Jones’ name immediately comes to mind, who has been subject to trade rumors throughout the offseason. The 26 year-old outfielder owns a career line of .275/.319/.437, and hit 20+ homers and 80+ RBI’s for the first time in his career last season. Jones has great potential in the MLB, and his offensive could really be used in Tampa. There is a question as to how well Jones would suit the Rays, though. Being a centerfielder, it would be interesting see how he would fit in the same outfield as B.J. Upton. However, if Upton is traded at some point in the future, this could become a serious trade possibility. The chances of a Adam Jones trade happening for the Rays are very slim. This is more of a “what-if” trade scenario.
Possible Trade: Wade Davis and Alex Cobb to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for CF Adam Jones
As 2011 comes to a conclusion, the Rays’ Hot Stove is about to heat up. Since the Andrew Friedman era started back in 2005, January has been the month with the most off-field activity. As you can see in the picture above (Courtesy of DRaysBay.com), January is clearly the busiest month for the Rays’ front office. That brings up the big question; what moves will the Rays make this month? With constant rumors starting to flare, all signs are pointing towards offseason action in the coming weeks. With four new names emerging in Rays chatter in just the last five days, things could get interesting here.
Free agent Ryan Theriot is one of those names who’s apparently attracting interest from the Rays. According to sources, the Rays are among multiple teams that may be after Theriot’s middle-infield services. Last year, Theriot batted .271 and also contributed with solid defense at two positions for the World Champion Cardinals. I don’t see the Rays landing Theriot as a high possibility, but it could be a good acquisition considering the Rays’ shortstop situation.
The next couple of players have made a splash in Rays rumors lately, and definitely should excite Rays Republic. John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that the Rays may work out a trade with the Angels, bringing either Kendry Morales or Mark Trumbo to Tampa Bay. The potential trade suggested here makes a lot of sense. With Albert Pujols now the team’s future first baseman, the Angels are stuck with two extra first baseman. It seems likely that LA would shop one of the two, and Tampa appears like a probable destination. The Angels would probably be looking for another starter to add to an already-impressive rotation, while the Rays are in need of a first baseman. If you remember, Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann are still sitting on the trade block, and it wouldn’t be a shocker if LA is keeping a close eye. The Rays absolutely need to aggressively pursue a trade for either Trumbo or Morales this month. These are a pair of two talented sluggers who could really bolster the Rays’ offense. Trumbo had a great rookie season for the Angels last year, finishing second place in the ROY voting. The 25 year-old belted 29 homers and knocked in 87 RBI’s, giving the Angels’ a huge offensive boost during the season. Morales seems to be more of an attractive trade piece for the Angels rather than an current interest of the Rays. The obvious reason for this is his famous 2010 injury, which kept him out of the whole 2011 season. Still, his terrific production during his ’09 and ’10 seasons may soon open up eyes in the front office. Of course none of this will be necessary if the Rays can pull of a trade with Anthony Rizzo, who should be the main target right now.
The last name that could develop into a rumor later this month is Kurt Suzuki. There haven’t been reports of any teams interested in him yet, but the possibility of him leaving Oakland in the near future is no secret. Even though the Rays signed Jose Molina to fill in at the catcher spot, the backstop issues aren’t over by no means. Suzuki isn’t anyone to get too excited about, though. The 28 year-old Hawaiian owns a career .258 batting average with mediocre run production, and also has proven to be decent defensively. Obviously, this is much better than most of the Rays’ future catching options. However, Suzuki’s contract is a bit expensive for the Rays, and it’s debatable whether he’s worth spending the money on. Chances are the Rays will have to do with Jose Molina in 2012.
This is my second award voting in the BBA Awards. To learn more about BBA Awards read my earlier post. The Willie Mays Award is one I’ve been looking forward to all year. The award acknowledges the best rookie (AL in my case). Like the Connie Mack Award, you all know who my winner is for this award. I’ve debated with many people this season about why Jeremy Hellickson is the no-brainer to win the AL ROY Award. Here’s my top three:
2.) Eric Hosmer– The Royals’ Hosmer is amongst the three best offensive AL rookies, with Jemile Weeks and Mark Trumbo. What made me pick Hosmer over these two guys was his balance of skills. Hosmer showed everyone that he could hit for power (like Trumbo) and hit for average (like Weeks), but still manage to hit about .40 points higher than Trumbo and much more RBI’s than Weeks. Although Trumbo’s power numbers are a bit better, Hosmer has him beat average wise and even defensively. Both Jemile Weeks and Trumbo do not field as well him, and that’s a very important stat to look at when it comes to ROY.
3.) Ivan Nova– Probably the Yankees’ second best starter, after his terrific second half of the season. His best statistic by far is wins, which he has 16 of and an impressive perfect record post-All Star break. It was a hard choice wether to put him in the top 3 or not, but I decided to because of how much he means to his ball club.
If you are a member of the BBA and have posted your Willie Mays Award (or any other award) votes, I’d really like to see what you think. Comment the link of your post below. I would also love to see anyone else’s opinions. You also can rate the post from 1-5 stars, evaluating my voting. If you’re a blogger interested and joining the BBA, click here.
The American League Wild Card race is usually a battle of the East division, but a team from out West has now joined the picture. The Angels from Anaheim just yesterday tied the Rays in the Wild Card, with 2.5 game gap behind Boston. Like the Rays, the Angels have made a late run to give themselves a chance to make the postseason. The Halos did not look like a playoff team for most of the season, but are playing a lot more like it in the past two months. All season long the Angels weren’t in the national spotlight, mainly because the AL West team to watch was the AL-champion Rangers. Texas has already clinched the division for the second straight year and the Angels are trying are trying to join them in October by doing the impossible. It’s really amazing how both the Rays and the Angels have a shot at the playoffs with just a week to play. Both teams have gained a remarkable amount of ground on Boston in the last three weeks and have stunned baseball fans across the nation. Although the Rays may of had the tougher schedule with the AL East, the Angels schedule wasn’t so easy either with multiple matchups against the Rangers. The Angels pitching is the reason they stand where they are today. Besides ace and CY Young candidate Jered Weaver, 3-time All-Star Dan Haren and rookie closer Jordan Walden have pitched great for the Halos all season.
If it wasn’t for these three guys, the Angels would be far below .500 right now. Speaking of rookies, Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout have supplied most of the offense in addition to veteran Torii Hunter. The question for discussion here, is who has the better shot to make the playoffs? It’s a really tough answer when you go by the schedules. Both teams have a strikingly similar schedule for the final 7 games. The Rays and Angels each play a mediocre team over the weekend and then finish off the season against their respective division champions. At the end of the day, the team that is most concerned about the new company is the Red Sox. The reeling Boston team has already been playing in fear of Tampa for weeks, and now they have another surging team on their tail. Although my first wish is that the Rays make the playoffs, I would love to see Los Angeles in the playoffs instead of the Red Sox. Even though it would be upsetting knowing that the Rays should be there, anything’s better than having Boston beat out the Rays to the playoffs. I think having another team makes the race more exciting.
The Rays are really only preventing themselves from a better chance, having dropped two winnable games in a row. Rays Republic is now cheering for the Yankees to unleash their wrath against Boston this weekend; they’re going to need all the help they can get.
So what do you think about the subject:
The American League Rookie of the Year Award. An award that has been familiar with Rays players for the past 3 years. This year the Rays have two strong candidates, one who I think deserves to win the award. The two guys are Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson, who was a ROY candidate in 2010.
When it comes to the best rookie pitcher, I don’t think it’s much of an argument. The “Hellboy” has the best statistics; with the lowest ERA and most innings pitched of all AL rookie pitchers. Sadly, many baseball fans around the country still have failed to recognize that the underrated Hellickson is the best rookie pitcher in the American League. Many assume that Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova is the best rookie pitcher, because of his astonishing 15-4 record. Even though Nova is having a pretty good rookie season, the run support from the big New York bats is the reason for that record. Nova’s ERA is a full run higher, with 26 less innings pitched than Jeremy. And if strikeouts is a stat you value in these debates, Hellickson has the 2nd most K’s of AL rookies and 22 more punchouts than Nova. Young fireballer Michael Pineda of the M’s is the third pitcher in the running for Rookie of the Year. The 22 year old, 6-foot 7 Pineda has already shown that he has some of the best stuff in league. To be fair, his win-loss record is not a legitimate in his case because of being on one of the worst teams. But he still has 9 wins with a 3.74 ERA, and leads all AL rookies in strikeouts with an impressive 163 K’s. I think Pineda will one day be one of MLB’s premier pitchers. Still the ERA (the most important pitching stat), is nowhere near Hellickson’s.
On the other side of things, there are some offensive players that get in the way of a potential ROY award for Hellickson. Besides Desmond Jennings, some names include Brett Lawrie, Eric Hosmer, Mark Trumbo, and Dustin Ackley. Lawrie and Jennings both have the same problem. They have both played under 50 games (Lawrie with 30), not close to a full season. Still their impressive (and similiar) stats have put them in the arguement. They both are hitting over .310, with 20+ RBI’s and 8 homers each. Jennings has already racked up 15 steals and 50 hits.
The Royals Eric Hosmer, and the Angels Mark Trumbo have both produced a bunch of runs for their respective teams. Hosmer has knocked in 65 runs, while also hitting a solid .287. Trumbo has hit 26 bombs and 80 RBI’s, but his .258 average will hurt him in the voting. Dusting Ackley has played 69 games for Seattle at second base, and is batting a high .301 average. With all these rookie bats, I still think Jeremy Hellickson is the player that deserves this award. If Jennings or Lawrie played 100+ games, than we might have a much different story. If one of those two doesn’t win this year, they will have a terrific shot in 2012.
I would like to see what the readers think, leave your vote on the poll below: