The much-anticipated James Shields blockbuster has finally happened, and it was even bigger than most of us expected. Tampa Bay also added another MLB-ready starter in Wade Davis and a player to be named or cash to the deal in exchange for a haul of talented prospects from Kansas City.
The Royals’ official Twitter page broke the news last night:
#Royals acquire RHPs James Shields, Wade Davis and player to be named or cash from Tampa Bay for Myers, Odorizzi, Montgomery and Leonard.
— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) December 10, 2012
The main acquisition for the Rays in this trade is obviously 22-year-old OF Wil Myers, who was the club’s top prospect and arguably the best hitting prospect in all of baseball. Myers was named the Baseball America Minor League Baseball Player of the Year in 2012, putting up an impressive .304/.378/.554 line with Triple-A Omaha this season. He finished second in the league in home runs (24), fourth in the league in RBI (79) and third in slugging. Rays fans are really going to enjoy seeing power like this from Myers in the future.
The Rays also received right-handed pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi, who seems seems like a guy with frontline starter potential in the majors. The 22-year-old former first-round draft pick had a great season in the minors this year, going 15-5 with a 3.03 ERA and a 8.4 K/9 through 145.1 IP in AA and AAA ball. He also made his his MLB debut (two starts, 7.1 IP) with the Royals.
Check out a full scouting report on Odorizzi over at MLB.com.
The Rays lost two quality starters in Wade Davis and James Shields, but they got at least one back in this trade by acquiring Odorizzi. Jon Mayo of MLB.com ranks Myers and Odorizzi as the organization’s top 2 best prospects.
Tampa Bay got another top-ten ranked prospect in this deal with LHP Mike Montgomery. The 23-year-old was in the Royals’ organization for five years, and has struggled ever since reaching Triple-A two seasons ago. Montgomery posted an ugly 5.69 ERA in 17 starts with Omaha this year. However, with very good stuff and a high upside, the Rays may be able to work their magic and transform yet another talented arm into a refined Major League pitcher.
The fourth and final prospect that the Rays received in this blockbuster is 20-year-old third baseman Patrick Leonard. Leonard batted .251/.340/.494 with 14 homers and 46 RBI through 62 games in Rookie League ball this season. He has a long way to go before he reaches the big leagues, but his power potential makes him someone to keep an eye on in the coming years.
To recap this 6-7 player megadeal in a nutshell, I believe that the deal is a win-win for both clubs. Kansas City’s rotation (and team) just got a whole lot better with two key additions, and Tampa’s future is now brighter.
I personally would have liked to see the Rays add a little more to their offensive depth rather than just restock on arms again, but all-in-all Andrew Friedman and the front office still got the job done here.
One positive about the deal was that the Rays now have a lot more cash on their hands by trading away two pricey salaries in Shields and Davis. The Rays would have owed Shields over $22 million ($10 million in 2013) in the final two years of his contract and Davis would have been payed over $6.5 million for the next two seasons (which is a lot considering how the Rays use him) before three years of expensive team options.
Hopefully the Rays will use some of the money they save to sign somebody productive this offseason off the free agent market to fill in needed positions that are still empty on the roster (RHH 1B/DH, catcher, relief pitcher).
Here’s GM Andrew Friedman and president Matt Silverman on the blockbuster below:
With Day 1 of the MLB Winter Meetings already behind us and Day 2 now in progress, Andrew Friedman and the Tampa Bay Rays have shown that they’re not going to hesitate to pursue players on the free agent or trade market. After being involved in a flurry of rumors on Monday, it looks as if the Rays could be pretty active this week in Nashville.
With a handful of possible trade possibilites on the table and multiple teams contacting the Rays, here are five things the club should try to do over these next few days.
Trade Jeremy Hellickson or James Shields
The chances the Rays trade either one of the two talented starters seem very likely at the moment. As important as these two top-tier arms are to the Rays’ rotation, trading one of the two (not both) would make a lot of sense for a couple of reasons.
Tampa has a surplus of starting pitching and is in serious need of offensive help, and both Shields and Hellickson are currently at very high value on the market. In addition, if the Rays were to trade Shields, it would be one less huge salary to pay (that they can hardly afford anyway).
Trading either Hellickson or Shields (or David Price) is really their only way of acquiring a star-quality player or top prospect caliber talent this winter. Knowing that Rays will probably trade one of them should make the next couple of days pretty exciting.
Not trade David Price
The Rays have made it clear that they’re willing to trade away Cy Young award-winner David Price for the right offer, taking into account the 29-year-old phenom’s upcoming pricey contract issues. In a recent article on ESPN.com, columnist Buster Olney points out the fact that Price may very possibly be traded sometime in the next year as the Rays are probably not going to be able to afford him eventually.
Although his value may be at its career peek right now, I think dealing Price this offseason would be a mistake. The Rays could use the offensive boost, but the core of the franchise is still pitching and defense, and trading away a player like Price would potentially be too big of loss for the team.
Put Alex Colome, Alex Torres, Alex Cobb and Wade Davis on the trade block
Believe it or not, the Rays could actually enter the 2013 season with a much better better offense without trading one of their three top starters. Being so deep in the starting pitching department, the Rays have major-league ready starters that aren’t even being used to their full potential and a handful of talented pitching prospects that they could afford giving away.
If the Rays can keep the same ridiculously good starting rotation they had this year and at the same time put together a better offense for next season, they’re going to be one very serious contender in 2013.
With prospects like Colome and Torres, and MLB-ready starters like Davis and Cobb, the Rays have the opportunity to do so.
Acquire Asdrubal Cabrera or Jason Kubel
The shortstop position has been a weak area for the Rays for two years now, and picking up a star shortstop like Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera would be a very nice solution to the problem. The 27-year-old is one of baseball’s best offensive shortstops, posting a wOBA of over .330 and a wRC+ of over 110 for the past two seasons.
The Indians are looking for three to four— preferably four—prospects in exchange for him (per the Cleveland Plain-Dealer). The Rays have the pieces to make a deal like this happen, and Cleveland could really use some young starting pitching talent.
Over in Arizona, Justin Upton has been the main talk in Diamondbacks trade rumors so far this offseason, but now sources are saying that they may be shopping OF Jason Kubel instead. According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, the Rays are one of multiple teams that could be a possible suitor for the veteran slugger.
Kubel had himself a very nice 2012 season, posting a .352 wOBA while hitting 30 homers and 90 RBI. Not only would Kubel add depth to the Rays’ outfield, but he would also be a perfect fit for the DH role.
Sign a catcher
One big area of need to address on Tampa’s roster is without a doubt at the catcher position. The four catchers that the Rays used this this year combined for an RBI total of just 65 without one reaching a wOBA as high as .290. Defensively, the four weren’t very good either.
The two main catchers on the roster (who were the team’s two catchers in 2012 as well) are Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton. Molina had a poor season offensively last year, but did well throwing out baserunners and framing pitches, essentially helping out the pitching staff throughout the year. The main problem with Molina is that he’s 37, and can’t really provide the Rays with many innings.
Therefore, the team’s backup catcher is a crucial role. Lobaton is in that position right now, and he’s not the kind of guy the Rays would [or at least should] like playing 65+ games for them. Lobaton posted a .222/.323/.317 line last year with very little power while throwing out just 16% of would-be base-stealers.
Whether it’s via the trade market or free agent market, the Rays really need to sign a backstop this winter.
The 2012 season may not be one to remember for Tampa Bay Rays fans. Despite winning 90 games in baseball’s toughest division, they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Considering the high expectations put upon the Rays coming into spring training, many look back at the season as a disappointment.
One word that could used to describe the Rays in 2012 is ‘unlucky’. Not only did they have to play through injury after injury throughout the entire season, but they also saw the Baltimore Orioles and the Oakland A’s both have shockingly great seasons in the same year`, ultimately costing them a spot in the postseason.
Even with all these obstacles, Tampa Bay still could have very possibly made the playoffs. They lost a handful of games that could have been one and had their fair share of awful offensive performances as well.
Let’s take a look back at the Rays’ season as a whole; evaluating what went wrong, what went right, and which players are worthy of team awards.
Just like it has been in the previous years, offense once again was the team’s biggest weakness in 2012. The numerous injuries were obviously a huge reason for the Rays’ lack of production, but even some names in the lineups—such as Carlos Pena, Luke Scott and Desmond Jennings—underproduced causing the Rays major problems scoring runs throughout the season.
Relative to expectations and projections for Tampa coming into the season, the Rays actually only slightly underproduced offensively. A thorough article done by Jason Hanselman at the TheRaysWay.com evaluates how well the Rays hit compared to preseason projections by looking at every players wOBA and wRAA. Below is a table:
What the Rays saw this year is just how shallow their offensive depth is in their organization. Unlike in previous years, they dealt with a large amount of injuries in their lineup and constantly had to call up replacements. As you can see from the numbers, those replacements couldn’t give the Rays any kind of boost that was needed and the injuries would prove to sting as badly as feared.
Runs: 18th (697) in MLB
Batting average: T-27th (.240)
wOBA: T-16th (.311)
RBI: 17th (665)
Walks: 1st (571)
Stolen Bases: T-5th (134), T-2nd in AL
Team Leaders (500+ PA’s):
BA: Ben Zobrist (.270)
wOBA: Ben Zobrist (.365)
RBI: B.J. Upton (78)
HR: B.J. Upton (28)
wRC+: Ben Zobrist (137)
SB: Desmond Jennings/B.J. Upton (31)
* Evan Longoria and Jeff Keppinger both had under 500 PA’s this season
The Rays pitching once again was every bit as good as advertised, and more in 2012. The staff’s ridiculously good season was one of the best in modern baseball history and the best in the majors this year. Tampa’s pitching (including bullpen) led all of baseball in ERA (3.19), FIP (3.51), opponents batting average (.228) and strikeouts (set the AL record team record with 1,383).
David Price – The Cy Young hopeful enjoyed his best season yet thus far in his impressive young career, winning 20 games while posting a 2.56 ERA through 211 innings at the top of the Rays’ rotation. Justin Verlander, who also had an outstanding year, is the only pitcher that stands in the way of some hardware for Price this November. Both make great cases for the award and it should be fun to watch who prevails in the voting. The Rays saw the flame-throwing southpaw continue to develop as an ace in 2012, maturing with his pitch selection as well as with his command. The future looks extremely bright for him.
James Shields – In what could be his last year with the Rays, Shields had himself another successful season with Tampa Bay. He again proved to be one of the most efficient and consistent starters in the league, posting a 15-10 record with a 3.52 ERA through 227.2 innings pitched. He also recorded the most strikeouts of anybody in the rotation (223) while walking the least batters out of the four starters with 150+ IP. Even with all the great pitching talent in the organization, the Rays will no doubt miss Shields next year if he doesn’t return.
Jeremy Hellickson – After taking home the AL Rookie of the Year award last year, Hellickson did a nice job avoiding a sophomore slump in 2012. He hit some rough patches during the season but overall had himself a fine year, posting a 3.10 ERA through 177 innings pitched.
Matt Moore – After a sensational first impression in the big leagues last year as a mid-season call-up at the young age of 22, the top prospect phenom experienced a bumpy roller coaster ride in 2012. As Moore has done in his past years in the minors, he struggled early in the season, posting an ERA in the high 4’s for the first two months and then struggling again late in the season posting an ERA north of 5 in the last month. As expected, fastball command was his biggest issue throughout the year. Overall it wasn’t a bad season at all though, and he’ll likely become a ace-type pitcher very soon with some minor adjustments.
Jeff Niemann – Unfortunately injuries absolutely ruined Niemann’s 2012 season, and it wasn’t the first time in his career either. As he started to heat up in the month of May, he was hit hard by Tampa’s injury plague, taking a hard liner to the leg sidelining the big right-hander for months. He wouldn’t even pitch as much as four innings after that, as a shoulder injury in his first start back in September ended his season for good. Niemann would end the year with a 3.08 ERA through eight starts (38 innings pitched).
Alex Cobb – Just as he did in 2011, Cobb was called up to replace the injured Niemann and did a fine job doing so. He would pitch as much as 136.1 innings by the end of year, posting an 11-9 record with a solid 4.03 ERA. We’ll likely see Cobb continue to contribute to the back end of the Rays’ rotation in the years to come.
Chris Archer – Another top prospect arm, Archer experiences his first taste in the big leagues in 2012. He made four starts for the Rays and posted a 3.80 ERA, showing off his high potential with some impressive major league caliber stuff.
The Rays’ top-notch rotation was followed up by a bullpen that was one of baseball’s best as well. The ‘pen posted an AL-best ERA of 2.88, a MLB-best FIP of 3.19, AL-best K/9 of 9.33 and an MLB-best opponent’s average of .205. Featured in Tampa’s bullpen was baseball’s best reliever: Fernando Rodney. The flamethrowing closer set the all-time MLB record among relief pitchers for ERA with a 0.60 mark while recording 48 saves out of 50 opportunities (although only one BS was his fault). The ‘pen was also strengthened by Wade Davis, who did a nice job in his transition from starter to long-reliever. Jake McGee is another name worth mentioning. The young fireballer displayed his sky-high potential by posting a 1.95 ERA with an 11.87 K/9 as a middle reliever.
- Jeff Keppinger – When signed by the Rays as somewhat of an extra infielder, nobody thought Keppinger would put the impressive offensive numbers that he did. The 32-year-old veteran hit .325 with a .352 wOBA and 128 wRC+ in 418 plate appearances.
- Fernando Rodney – Not only was Rodney the most pleasant surprise with the Rays this year, but he was also the most pleasant surprise in all of baseball. After struggling in the past couple of seasons with the Angels, Rodney revived himself in Tampa Bay in 2012, earning him the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award. His historical season also earned him a much-deserved Deliverman Award (acknowledging the league’s best reliever).
- Carlos Pena – Pena was brought back to Tampa Bay in order to give the Rays consistent run production in the middle of the lineup, but miserably failed to do so this season. The veteran first baseman hit .197 (an MLB low) while knocking in a career-low (for full seasons) RBI total 62 and a career-low home run total of 19.
- Luke Scott – Like Pena, Scott was acquired in the offseason for the same reasons except for DH duties. He too failed to put up the offensive numbers expected from him, posting a .229/.285/.439 line with just 55 RBI. Injuries were issue as well, and caused him to play just 96 games all season.
- Sean Rodriguez – Sadly, Rodriguez was the Rays’ best choice for the starting shortstop role at the beginning of the season, and he proved to be probably the worst overall in the league. Offensively he struggled mightily, ending the year with a wOBA of .269 and a wRC+ of 71. Defensively he wasn’t much better either, as he committed a team-high 11 errors.
Team MVP: Ben Zobrist
Best Pitcher: David Price
Best Offensive Player: Ben Zobrist
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.
The baseball gods must be upset with the Rays this year, as they haven’t been able to avoid injuries at any point so far this season. The Rays have had a total of nine players on the Disabled List this season, including B.J. Upton, Kyle Farnsworth (60-day DL), Sam Fuld (60-day DL), Robinson Chirinos (60-day DL), Jose Lobaton, Evan Longoria, Brandon Allen, Desmond Jennings, and Jeff Niemann. Besides Upton and Chirinos (rehab assignment), all of them are currently on the DL.
After lingering as day-to-day for over a week with a sprained left knee, Jennings was finally placed on the 15-day DL. Not only are the Rays without their biggest offensive producer Evan Longoria, but now they’ll have to manage without their leadoff hitter for some time. With Jennings out the offense—and the defense—takes another huge blow. He’s probably the biggest part of the Rays’ running game, as well as a plus defender in the outfield which can’t be replaced by the likes of Brandon Guyer and Stephen Vogt.
The Rays were hit with yet another big injury last night, as Jeff Niemann—the fifth man in the starting rotation—broke his leg on a hard comebacker against the Blue Jays. X-rays revealed a small fracture above Niemann’s right ankle, which will sideline him for a minimum of 4-6 weeks.
The injury could not come at a much worse time for Niemann and the Rays, as the big right-hander seemed to be on the way up after his best start of the season in Yankee Stadium last Wednesday, where he silenced the New York bats with seven sharp innings of one-run ball. Although he’s in the number five spot in the rotation, Niemann has been a key piece to the Rays’ pitching staff this year. He’s probably been the most consistent starter for the Rays this season, as he hasn’t had a start with more than three earned runs thus far (3.38 ERA on the season). With Matt Moore having some early season struggles in the No. 4 hole, Niemann has been the core of the back end of the rotation, giving his team a chance to win in every single game he pitched this year.
Niemann is no stranger to injuries, however, as they’ve already stifled his chance of becoming a star multiple times in his career. In 2010, it appeared as he was headed towards a breakout season, posting a 2.77 ERA with a 7-2 record through 117 innings pitched in the first half. After getting hurt in August, it all went down hill for him from there as he imploded in a horrific end to the season. In early May of last year, Niemann was placed on the DL with back problems, and it was likely was the only thing that got in the way of a solid year for him. Before the injury, when his back was probably bothering him, Niemann went 1-4 with an ERA of about 6.38. After returning from the injury, he went 10-3 with a 3.94 ERA.
Now the question is who will replace Niemann for the time being. Alex Cobb—who’s already filled in for a Jeff Niemann injury in the past—is definitely a possibility. Cobb gave the Rays a huge boost last year while Niemann was out last year, going 3-2 with a 3.42 ERA in nine starts (his only MLB experience). After eight starts with Triple-A Durham this season, Cobb is 1-4 with a 4.14 ERA.
Top prospect Chris Archer is also in the conversation. Although he seems to be heating up now, he’s had a rather slow start to the season posting a 4.71 after eight starts with Durham. Wade Davis—who was edged out of a starting role by Niemann—is another possibility to take his place. He’s done well out of the ‘pen so far this season, posting a 2.04 ERA through 17.2 innings pitched. With more experience in the rotation than both Cobb and Archer, he could be the front-runner for the gig, but then again the Rays may want to keep him in the bullpen where he’s had success.
Ever since the offseason began, there has been a big discussion surrounding the Rays on whether they would trade their surplus of pitching for a bat. The Rays have been looking to trade a starter for a while now, but apparently haven’t found a deal.
During the winter, the Rays really had three roster holes they needed to fill; catcher, first base and DH. Somewhat surprisingly, they turned to the free agent market for their needs. The Rays snagged veteran backstop Jose Molina, signed left-handed slugger Luke Scott to be their DH and brought back first baseman Carlos Pena.
The front office got the job done, but were there better options on the trade market?
The fact is that the Rays have eight legitimate starters for 2012, and probably more in 2013. James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, Alex Torres and Alex Cobb could all make an Opening Day MLB rotation on most other teams, while prospect Chris Archer will definitely be in that mix soon. The Rays offense is weaker than their outstanding starting pitching, so it would make a lot of sense to trade at least one starter for a hitter when you have three ‘extra’ starters.
The Rays clearly possess the necessary pieces in order to construct a deal, but who could they have traded for during the offseason. Three names immediately come to mind: first baseman/outfielder Yonder Alonso, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and catcher Yasmani Grandal. The two best prospect first basemen in all of baseball and a top prospect catcher were all traded this winter on deals the Rays could of very easily made.
In the deal that sent Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal to the Padres, San Diego only gave up their No.1 starter (Mat Latos) in exchange for both of them and two more arms (Edinson Volquez and Brad Boxberger) from Cincinnati. With the starting pitching the Rays have, there were plenty of ways the Rays could have traded for both Alonso and Grandal if the Reds were looking for just one good arm to add to their rotation.
As for Anthony Rizzo, he was traded to the Cubs in exchange for minor league pitcher Andrew Cashner. Looking at who Chicago gave away for Rizzo, there’s absolutely no way that Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, Chris Archer, Alex Cobb, or Alex Torres could not bring this future star first-baseman to Tampa Bay.
This trio’s big bats seem like they would have been a perfect addition to the Rays’ roster, but how would they actually fit on the team? If Luke Scott and Carlos Pena were never signed, we can assume that Alonso and Rizzo would be able to play DH and first base for the 2012 season. With Rizzo being the better defensive first baseman, he would likely man first while Alonso would be the DH.
As for Yasmani Grandal, he would be the backup catcher behind Molina and would get a significant amount of playing time. Looking at the Rays’ catching situation behind Molina, they probably wish they had him now.
The Rays would obviously have to choose either the Rizzo/Alonso combination or the Pena/Scott combination (or possibly a mixture), so which would be the better decision? There are plus sides and negative sides to both decisions. With the Scott/Pena combo (which is having a great start to the season by the way) the Rays have now, there is a bit of a long-term concern. Pena will be a free agent after the 2012 season, and Scott will be a free agent in 2013.
If the Rays signed both Alonso and Rizzo to long-term deals, they would have better security at the DH and first base positions. We know how Andrew Friedman loves to lock up young talented players long-term, which is the main reason why I think this would have been a good deal for the Rays. However, I believe that the Rays’ offense may be a bit better short-term with Scott and Pena in the roster.
It’s too early in the season to say anything for sure, but Scott and Pena have much more experience and have proven what they can do at the big league level. The short-term aspect is why I think the Rays chose Scott and Pena. They’ve made it very clear they’re going for it all this season.
What I find the most surprising in the Rays’ search to trade a starter is that they still haven’t made a deal to bring in a catcher to backup Molina. Not surprisingly, the Rays are still searching for a backup catcher. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, Tampa has been pushing to acquire Oakland’s Kurt Suzuki, but Billy Beane isn’t very interested in Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis.
The Rays will most likely sign somebody eventually, but it may not be via trade. Ivan Rodriguez is one free agent catcher that the Rays pursue. If the Rays don’t decide to turn to free agency for their catching needs, who could they trade for?
Ryan Hanigan and Travis D’Arnaud could be two future possibilities. Hanigan—who the Rays have already discussed acquiring—has a questionable future in Cincinnati because of the emergence of top prospect catcher Devin Mesoraco. D’Arnaud—who’s also a top prospect catcher—may not have a future in Toronto because J.P Arencibia, who has established himself as the team’s starting catcher there. The Blue Jays have already discussed trading him, which is why I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Rays go after him.
The Rays have waited to find the right deal to trade some of their young pitching talent, but I think they’ll find some better opportunities as the trade deadline nears. It’s still too early in the season to conclude that the Rays have been over-hesitant to trade away their pitching surplus. What matters is what the front office decides to do in the future, and I think we’ll see the trade many have been anticipating once the deadline arrives.
The latest Rays news and notes:
- The Rays tied the Red Sox 7-7 yesterday, as three big home runs avoided the Rays losing their 17th spring game despite some sloppy play. Carlos Pena, Evan Longoria, and Luke Scott all belted solo homers. Some other notable offensive performances came from Jose Lobaton (3-4 with two RBI) and Sean Rodriguez (2-4 with an RBI). Pitching wise, the Rays just did not have it yesterday. Jeff Niemann was scratched from his scheduled start with a nasty blister on his pitching hand, so the Rays went with the bullpen throughout the whole game. Kyle Farnsworth started the game allowing a run through his one inning pitched, then Joel Peralta and Burke Badenhop followed with scoreless outings. Wade Davis pitched three innings and allowed five runs, but only one earned. Still, he let up five hits, which is evidence that he wasn’t on his A-game Saturday. Boston only put out one Major League hitter throughout the entire game, which concerns me a bit. The Rays’ four errors were the biggest reason for the lost, something that’s very uncharacteristic of them. Click here for a full boxscore of yesterday’s game.
- The Rays added to their Triple-A depth yesterday, acquiring outfielder Kyle Hudson from the Texas Rangers for future considerations. Hudson, 25, hit .296 with 41 stolen in the minors last season (A+, AAA, AAA). The 5’11 left-hander has absolutely no power, but he has good speed and some contact ability. I had a feeling the Rays would make a minor league move within this week after hearing Andrew Friedman on a live telecast yesterday saying that he’d like to have a little bit more position player depth. It only took a few hours before Friedman pulled off a deal.
- The Rays continue to narrow down their roster, as Jesus Feliciano and Will Rhymes were reassigned to minor league camp yesterday. The latest round of cuts leaves Jeff Salazar as the front-funner for the backup outfielder job, but of course, Brandon Guyer still has a pretty good shot.