Time for the Rays to be serious buyers

June 23, 2008 at 11:05 am 7 comments

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(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

We are a week past the mid mark in June. The mark where teams start considering buying or selling players. Throughout the Devil Rays existence this has been a time where they start taking offers for their players. They have been called the “minor league system for the major leagues” in the past but this season has brought a new look to the way the Rays run their team.

The Rays currently sit 1.5 games behind Boston in the AL East and they are first in the AL Wild Card. They have a great nucleus of young players and great veteran leaders. The chemistry is so good on the team you might consider riding this team to the end to see what comes out of it. But after seeing every season go by with the Rays as sellers this time of year it would be nice to see them actually buying and not just standing still.

If you look at the Rays current team you can’t help but like it. They have great chemistry, great defense, and a very good bullpen. The only glaring needs are possibly in the rotation and on offense but adding a hitter means that you might lose some defense. The Rays need to head into the next 5 weeks with an eye on these few players and not settle on anything less.

High Priced:

C.C. Sabathia (CLE – SP) – The Rays will have to give up a lot for 2+ months of Sabathia but it might be worth it. Could you imagine a 3-man rotation of Kazmir-Shields-Sabathia in the playoffs?! That’s killer on any lineup. I think the Rays should be serious about getting Sabathia and offer a package similar to Edwin Jackson, Jake McGee, Mitch Talbot, Heath Rollins, and Ryan Royster. If that’s not hig-end enough for the Indians they should consider throwing Alex Cobb or Nick Barnese in too. The Rays likely won’t extend Sabathia and will let him walk and collect multiple high draft picks for him.

Matt Kemp (LAD – OF) or Hunter Pence (HOU – OF) – If the Rays want an upgrade in RF I believe they should go young and athletic. They have a great thing going on defense and an upgrade in offense would be needed while staying strong on defense and both Kemp and Pence play the part. The Rays will have to give up a package with higher end players than Sabathia. One like this should pique the interest of either team: Edwin Jackson, Desmond Jennings, Jake McGee, and Heath Rollins. That’s a package with two of the top 17 prospects in all of baseball. Both the Dodgers and Astros must realize they are out of it to pull the trigger on this deal but I think this package would be plenty to get either guy.

Ben Sheets (MIL – SP) – This one is a big “if” but if Sheets becomes available the Rays should target him. His package shouldn’t be as costly as Sabathia or Kemp/Pence but the Rays will have to make it 4 deep and include one top prospect in it for sure. This is highly unlikely because the Brewers have been on a roll and they just got Rickie Weeks back.

Reasonably Priced:

Randy Wolf (SD – SP) or Greg Maddux (SD – SP) – Both can be free agents at the end of the season and it may only take a package of 3 mid-level prospects to get one of these deals done. A package like Jeff Niemann, Alex Cobb, and Ryan Royster might get it done.

Xavier Nady (PIT – OF) or Jason Bay (PIT – OF) – The Rays could use both bats but would lose a step on defense. Bay could move to RF where his arm won’t play but his bat will. The Rays should only consider this if the package is mid-level like the one above I mentioned for Wolf or Maddux, and I would hesitate on that package for Nady.

Stay away from and keep the current roster:

Ken Griffey Jr. (CIN – OF) – Bad fit all around (Offense, Defense, Salary)
Matt Holliday (COL – OF) – Not confident he can hit enough away from Coors for his price tag.
Brian Giles (SD – OF) – Bad fit on offense, defense, salary
Mark Tiexiera (1B – ATL) – Too pricy; no place to play
Adam Dunn (CIN – OF) – Too pricy, bad on defense, salry issue
Erik Bedard (SEA – SP), Rich Harden (OAK – SP) – Too pricy for the injury risk
Anyone on the Mets – Bad salaries, bad price tags

The Rays could very well stay where they are right now and remain strong contenders. Their bats aren’t playing to their respected potential and they very well could get Rocco Baldelli back and he could be all of the above in RF for the Rays. His bat would be an upgrade, his defense could be an upgrade if fully healthy, and he is a very well respected guy in the clubhouse. The Rays also could have David Price up and he very well could be Sabathia-esque for the Rays.

I do think that if the Rayd do make a move it should be an all-in move and not a mediocre addittion. The Rays won’t do anything out of character while considering trades except listen to big names.

“We’re going to approach it like we have in the past two years,” Rays GM Andrew Friedman said. “The difference is there are going to be some names on our target list that wouldn’t have been there in the past.”

Whether or not the Rays make a move in the next 5 weeks is yet to be determined but fans should feel comfortable with the decision that is ultimately made because Friedman and company know what they are doing.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. supremesportsjustice  |  June 23, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Great article Jonathan! You make some great points. I think the Nady/Bay scenario makes the most sense for both teams involved. I can definitely see a fit there. But if they can’t work out a major deal, I think the Rays may look for a lower tier guy like Ryan Freel (who I wish the Mets would get), or a guy like Bill Hall. I can also see them making a run at a bullpen arm like Brian Fuentes or even a Shawn Chacon (which would be scary).

    Reply
  • 2. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  June 23, 2008 at 12:12 pm

    Thanks Danno! I really hope they either go all out or not at all. Freel and Hall would be good additions but as utility players only. Fuentes would be great but the Rox want a lot in return. Chacon would be a big JOKE.

    David Price was promoted to AA along with Jeremy Hellickson. That AA rotation is probably the best in the minors with Price, Hellickson, Wade Davis, Jake McGee, and James Houser.

    Reply
  • 3. Rook  |  June 23, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    I don’t really understand how Brian Giles is a “bad fit on offense, defense.”

    So far this year he has a 131 OPS+ with a .297/.401/.438 statline in a park where offense is almost nonexistent. There is nobody on the Rays with a better adjusted OPS.

    Also, he’s a right fielder who is playing very, very good defense. I’d understand if age were the main reasoning, and I can get on board with the salary issue as well. But strictly in terms of offense in defense in 2008, he is probably one of the top five RF’s in baseball right now, and I believe would fit very well in the Rays lineup.

    Reply
  • 4. Rays Renegade  |  June 23, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Hunter Pence is a plus bat, but if you saw any of his throws this past weekend, he is not the arm for our rightfield.
    C C would be a great add-on, but would McGee be too big a price coinsidering his upside in a few years?
    Roll the dice Andrew, and let’s hope it doesn’t come up craps.

    Reply
  • 5. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  June 23, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Rook – I know the numbers don’t lie but the numbers he’s putting up are above his head. I don’t see him keeping that up at all year especially if traded to the better league. His age and salary are also an issue and his defense isn’t that good at all. His BB/K rate is great but his power is limited and he has no speed anymore. What the Pads want in exchange for him is ridiculous.

    Reply
  • 6. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  June 23, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Rays Renegade – Pence’s arm isn’t prototypical for a RFer but it’ll play there especially with his range and feel for the game. McGee is a big time prospect but if it means a championship and you have plenty of arms it might be worth the roll of the dice. McGee’s secondary stuff still has a way to go but at worst I think he is dominate closer and it’s hard to trade that. You are right though, the dice need to be rolled. If they can do it and keep McGee then all the better. I wouldn’t include Wade Davis in any discussion thought.

    Reply
  • 7. A C Reed » Time for the Rays to be serious buyers  |  July 5, 2008 at 3:47 am

    […] Time for the Rays to be serious buyers (AP Photo/Reed Saxon) We are a week past the mid mark in June. The mark where teams start considering buying or selling players. Throughout the Devil Rays existence this has been a time where they start taking offers for their players. … […]

    Reply

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