Thursday, June 21, 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
Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

Missed time a good mental reset for Rays’ Matt Duffy

ST. PETERSBURG — Missing all of 2017 might have been the absolute worst thing for Matt Duffy.Frustratingly idled as he eventually recovered and rehabbed from ongoing left heel issues, he couldn't play the game he loved, couldn't show the Rays o...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

Rays journal: 7 pitches, 3 straight homers prove too much in loss to Astros

HOUSTON — The Rays were engaged in a third straight tight, go-either-way battle with the defending champ Astros on Wednesday.Until they were not.A brutal seven-pitch sequence by starter Nathan Eovaldi changed everything, as he gave up three con...
Published: 06/21/18
Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

Rays see the results of keeping a good, young core group together

HOUSTON — The Rays saw a lot on the weeklong trip that ended with Wednesday's game against that Astros, beyond the street hustlers prowling in Times Square and the urban cowboys and girls parading through H-town.There was an impressive debuting...
Published: 06/20/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Rays-Astros game

RHP Nathan Eovaldi said before his rough start Wednesday against the Astros that he was pitching better than his numbers showed. Well … In four starts since his six no-hit innings debut, he's 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA, allowing eight homers, four Wed...
Published: 06/20/18
For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

UPDATE, 6:43: Cash said the key to how the pieced the lineup together was the opportunity to give Cron (who is struggling) and Duffy (who is doing well) back to back days off. … Looking ahead to the weekend, the Rays will use RHP Ryne Stanek as...
Published: 06/20/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Kevin Kiermaier returns to the Rays

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Kevin Kiermaier returns to the Rays

Times sports columnist Tom Jones joins Rick Stroud to discuss Kevin Kiermaier's return to the Rays, whether Victor Hedman should win the Norris Trophy for the NHL's best defenseman, Bucs expectations for this season and Barry Trotz's next c...
Published: 06/20/18
How the Rays really won Tuesday’s game over Astros

How the Rays really won Tuesday’s game over Astros

There was some interesting inside baseball elements that factored into the late innings of Tuesday's 2-1 Rays win.* First, on Matt Duffy's double off reliever Hector Rondon to lead off the eighth.Duffy said he doesn't like "to guess" what a pitcher i...
Published: 06/20/18
Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

HOUSTON — Energy.That's what Kevin Kiermaier said he felt he'd provide most in rejoining the Rays Tuesday against the Astros after missing two-plus months recovering from thumb surgery."I like to think I bring energy on both sides of the ball, ...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

HOUSTON — The starting pitcher walked seven over seven otherwise solid innings Tuesday. That seemed weird enough for the Rays. Then the next pitcher they brought in was the one who started Monday's game. Even more bizarre.And then there was thi...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Astros

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Astros

This is how odd LHP Blake Snell's night was — he became the first pitcher to work seven or more innings and walk at least seven since Edwin Jackson threw his 149-pitch, eight-walk no-hitter at the Rays on June 25, 2010.If you weren't aware of t...
Published: 06/19/18