Thursday, August 16, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Why the Rays keep trading with the Mariners

SEATTLE — Seeing Alex Colome and Denard Span in Mariner home whites this weekend is the latest product of the relationship between the Rays and Mariners that seems to be one of the coziest in the game.

Besides the cracks about a baseball bromance between general managers Erik Neander and Jerry Dipoto — and there are plenty, such as Chris Archer's, "You know they're favorites in each other's phone'' — there are several commonalities that have led to nine trades, involving 28 players (including Anthony Misiewicz, twice) over the past 2½ years.

RELATED: More Rays coverage

The execs are similar enough in the way they evaluate and, more important, value players to find common ground. They're different enough in the stages of roster construction to recognize and address matchups. And they have enough trust to be able to have open, direct and skip-the-bull-and-cut-to-the-chase talks.

"They obviously have a good working relationship, front office to front office,'' said Rays infielder Brad Miller, part of the first deal after Dipoto took over the Mariners following the 2015 season.

"It's kind of unique. There's clearly something there. I don't think it's chance. They know how each other works. It's kind of mutually advantageous.''

The frat chat between Neander and Dipoto is what seals deals, but there is so much work involved before they say "I do,'' such as reports on the medicals, analytical projections, financial implications.

It all starts with the work of the scouts, the Rays' eclectic 15-man crew that is out in ballparks across the country and beyond almost every day, watching, identifying, evaluating and recommending players long before their names are ever on the table.

That includes — and proved critical in several of the deals with the Mariners — work at many of the lowest levels of the minors, as far as extended spring training and summer first-year leagues, which the Rays focus on more heavily than some other teams.

"I might be a little biased, but I think our group does a tremendous job from the major leagues all the way down to the Dominican Summer League of really covering all the levels so we don't have a blind spot when someone does have an idea,'' Rays pro scouting director Kevin Ibach said.

"So when Erik and Jerry might first discuss something and it filters down, I think we're in a really good position to honestly evaluate not only their system but to take a look from our side, too, and weigh in on whether the trade would be a net positive for us.''

The Rays encourage their scouts not only to be vigilant and observant, knowing even the smallest tidbit about a player on or off the field can be a big thing, but also open minded, creative and aggressive in making suggestions, pushing the paired themes that "no idea is a bad idea" and "no name is a bad name.''

The workload is shared, as the Rays are among the half or so teams that do their pro scouting geographically rather than by organization.

That means, for example, rather than having one scout be responsible for all of Seattle's minor-league teams, they use several scouts to cover the Mariners affiliates (as well as those of other teams) near where they live, creating what they consider a benefit of multiple opinions on some players.

Seattle-based Dave Myers —a former Mariners major- and minor-league coach and former Rays Triple-A coach — handles the big-league team, Triple-A Tacoma, rookie-level Everett (Wash.) and advanced Class A Modesto (Calif). J.D. Elliby has Double-A Arkansas, Jeff Stewart Class A Clinton (Iowa), Mike Langill extended spring and the complex-based Arizona league, and Jose Gomez the Dominican summer league teams. Cross-checker Jason Cole posts up at the Mariners/Padres shared spring camp. All have had a hand in the deals, and well beyond the obvious.

"You can't go out from our perspective and only scout the famous guys,'' Ibach said. "I always challenge our guys to find the 'off-the-radar types' that are down a little bit deeper in the system and maybe have that one pitch or the sum of the parts that add up to something that functions really well.''
That commitment to scout the low levels and scout hard has factored in to several of the deals with Seattle.

Neither pitchers Ryan Yarbrough nor Andrew Kittredge were considered prime prospects when acquired, but the Rays saw them as future major-leaguers in the skilled hands of their player development staff, and both made it. Shortstop Carlos Vargas was a 17-year-old who had played only one pro season in the Dominican League, but the Rays had good reports on him. Catcher Jesus Sucre proved more than capable of being a big-league backup after three years bouncing to Triple A.

Sometimes the diligence, preparation and complex scheduling (such as trying to scout a team for six straight games to see all the pitchers) pays off.

And sometimes so does a little luck, too. Twice this season Ibach went to see the other team when Tommy Romero pitched, and impressively, for Seattle's Class A Clinton team. So when they were looking to complete the Span/Colome deal last week, Ibach's data, plus reports from the amateur scouting staff, including at last year's predraft workout at the Trop, led to Romero being included.

"Just given the history,'' Ibach said, "our antennas are up any time we're in the ballpark scouting a Mariners affiliate.''

Probably a good idea.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

A whole lot of dealing going on

Since Jerry Dipoto took over as the Mariners' general manager in September 2015, the Rays have made nine deals with him of assorted consequence. This weekend the teams are meeting face to face (players currently with Rays in bold):

Nov. 5, 2015
Rays got: RHP Danny Farquhar, INF Brad Miller,
1B Logan Morrison
M's got: RHP Nate Karns, LHP C.J. Riefenhauser, OF Boog Powell

Nov. 18, 2016
Rays got: RHP Andrew Kittredge,
1B Dalton Kelly, RHP Dylan Thompson
M's got: INF/OF Taylor Motter, INF/OF Richie Shaffer

Jan. 11. 2017
Rays got: OF Mallex Smith, LHP Ryan Yarbrough, SS Carlos Vargas
M's got: LHP Drew Smyly

Feb. 8, 2017
Rays got: C Jesus Sucre
M's got: Cash

May 9, 2017
Rays got: International signing slot
M's got: RHP Bryan Bonnell

July 28, 2017
Rays got: RHP Steve Cishek
M's got: RHP Erasmo Ramirez

Aug. 6, 2017
Rays got: LHP Anthony Misiewicz, INF Luis Rengifo,
INF Osmy Gregorio
M's got: RHP Ryan Garton, C Mike Marjama

Dec. 13, 2017
Rays got: $1 million in international slot money
M's got: LHP Anthony Misiewicz

May 25, 2018
Rays got: RHP Andrew Moore, RHP Tommy Romero
M's got: RHP Alex Colome, OF Denard Span, $4.75M

Comments
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from the Rays’ win over the Yankees

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from the Rays’ win over the Yankees

NEW YORK — Here's Marc Topkin's takeaways from the Rays' 3-1 victory over the Yankees Thursday:1. Give mild-mannered 29-year-old rookie Adam Kolarek credit for handling the pressure of a bases loaded no-outs in the ninth situation and clos...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Rays finally won a series in Yankee Stadium. Now for some perspective.

The Rays finally won a series in Yankee Stadium. Now for some perspective.

NEW YORK — After the Rays exhaled following Thursday's tense-as-they come 3-1 win, they were able to appreciate the significance of what they'd done.For now.And, more importantly, for the future.Really, it shouldn't be that hard. They make thre...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays journal: Rookie Adam Kolarek picks good time for first career save

Rays journal: Rookie Adam Kolarek picks good time for first career save

NEW YORK — There was a lot that went into the Rays hanging on to their 3-1, series-clinching win over the Yankees Thursday.Including the conversation  reliever Adam Kolarek had with himself jogging in from the bullpen with the bases loaded...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Rays hang on for 3-1 victory, win first series at Yankee Stadium since 2014

Rays hang on for 3-1 victory, win first series at Yankee Stadium since 2014

NEW YORK – Once they got done exhaling, the Rays had reason to celebrate Thursday.In hanging on for a 3-1 win and taking two of the three games, they won their first series at Yankee Stadium since the middle of the 2014 season.Twelve times sinc...
Updated: 6 hours ago
For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking for a rare series win

For starters: Rays at Yankees, looking for a rare series win

UPDATE. 12:01: Cash said they are confident Pham's foot is fine and there is no risk activating him after just one rehab game. Also, that Pham was adamant about wanting to play in Yankee Stadium (for the first time in his career) and in playing leftf...
Published: 08/16/18
Rays ballpark engineers computer-modeled fly balls to design a roof that would stay out of play

Rays ballpark engineers computer-modeled fly balls to design a roof that would stay out of play

TAMPA — The roof at the Tampa Bay Rays’ proposed ballpark in Ybor City is about the same height at its peak — 230 feet, give or take — as at Tropicana Field, but the similarities end there.One big difference: No catwalks. Nothing to get in the way of...
Published: 08/16/18
Rays journal: Offense finally shows up in 6-1 win over Yankees

Rays journal: Offense finally shows up in 6-1 win over Yankees

NEW YORK —  The Rays were looking for something to spark their once-again stagnant offense, and it came in somewhat unexpected ways in a 6-1 win over the Yankees on Wednesday.Rookie INF/OF Brandon Lowe, who didn't have a hit in his first 1...
Published: 08/15/18
As the Rays turn: Tommy Pham activated, Jake Faria demoted

As the Rays turn: Tommy Pham activated, Jake Faria demoted

OF Tommy Pham only needed seven innings in leftfield and four at-bats for short-season Class A Hudson Valley on Wednesday to determine his fractured right foot was healed and he will rejoin the Rays for Thursday's matinee at Yankee Stadium.Pham was i...
Published: 08/15/18
Rays core that finishes season will be one that starts 2019, Stuart Sternberg says

Rays core that finishes season will be one that starts 2019, Stuart Sternberg says

NEW YORK — No, the Rays won't sit tight the whole off­season without changing their roster. That's not their style. There's going to be a trade or two. They'll dump somebody whose salary exceeds his value. With only maybe $30 million or so...
Published: 08/15/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from the Rays’ win over the Yankees

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from the Rays’ win over the Yankees

1. Welcome back, Kevin Kiermaier. For one night, anyway, the slumping centerfielder looked like the kind of game-changer the Rays expect, rapping a few hits, racing around the bases and roaming the outfield, making leaping catches and laser-like thro...
Published: 08/15/18