Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays Tales: 5 takeaways from the trade deadline

ST. PETERSBURG — The talking, analyzing, projecting, regretting, wondering and fantasizing has been going nonstop, and that's just since the Rays completed the most active, hectic and impactful trade-deadline day in franchise history. And even more so if you consider the three other deals in the days leading up.

Here are five takeaways from the transformational week that was:

The deals

* RHP Nathan Eovaldi to Red Sox for LHP Jalen Beeks.

* RHP Matt Andriese to D-backs for C Michael Perez, minor-league RHP Brian Shaffer.

* LHP Jonny Venters to Braves for $250,000 international slot money.

* Minor-league OF Justin Williams, LHP Genesis Cabrera, RHP Roel Ramirez to Cardinals for OF Tommy Pham and $500,000 international slot money.

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* C Wilson Ramos to Phillies for minor-leaguer to be named.

* LHP Hunter Shryver to White Sox for $1 million international slot money.

* RHP Chris Archer to Pirates for RHP Tyler Glasnow, OF Austin Meadows, minor-leaguer to be named.

1. Check your receipts

Of course, we don't know how all this is going to work out. No one does, including the Rays. But it looks promising as they come away with — potentially — two starters in Beeks and Glasnow, two frontline outfielders in Meadows and Pham, and a starting, or at least platooning, catcher in Perez. Seems like a good shopping trip. Trading seven pitchers seemed a little heavy. But three weren't in their plans — Eovaldi heading to a free-agency jackpot, Andriese not valued enough to go to arbitration with, and Venters of limited (though effective) use.

Dealing Cabrera was a surprise as he was a promising prospect, with an electric arm and success at Double A; Ramirez not as much. Nor Schryver. Archer attracted a robust market, tipping the scale in the ongoing calculus of his production vs. contract value. The Rays juggled similarly significant offers, structured differently but built around young controllable players. The Braves and Brewers were reported "finalists," but there might have been five or six. As much as the Rays raved about Glasnow, Pirates GM Neil Huntington said Meadows was their "must-have."

2. Money matters

In trading Archer, the Rays reduced their guaranteed contract commitment for next season to … $8 million. Total. That's what they owe CF Kevin Kiermaier in the third year of his six-year deal. And they won't have many major arbitration cases, maybe just 3B Matt Duffy (roughly $3-4 million) and Pham (similar), pending a decision on DH/1B C.J. Cron, whose run at 30 homers could push him to a potentially pricey $5-6 million. Assuming they keep Kiermaier, Duffy and Pham, and not Cron, with the bulk of the other players making at or near the $555,000 minimum, the Rays would have most of the team covered for around $25M (down from $70M this year). That, in theory, positions them to assess what their young core is lacking and, presumably, address it by adding a veteran or two via free agency or trade. No, that doesn't mean Bryce Harper will show up at the Trop — although agent Scott Boras did invent the term "pillow contract" for one-year, soft-landing deals — but it should give the Rays an opportunity to do something at the least interesting in continuing to transition toward contending.

3. Good reviews

For as much bad as the national media has said about the Rays for their previous moves and unconventional pitching plans, reviews for their trades were generally good. Jim Bowden, writing for The Athletic, gave them an A-, praising the addition of athletic contact hitters and saying the Rays "continue to make smart" decisions. … ESPN's Buster Olney gave them a B+, noting "some rival evaluators might disagree with the Rays' assessment" of Beeks and Meadows. Colleague Keith Law, though, said "the return for Archer right now is disappointingly light,'' pending the player to be named, as Glasnow and Meadows are "faded" prospects who have "failed to pan out to date.'' … Jon Heyman on fancred.com wrote it was "amazing how they turned the Chris Archer derby into an event well beyond its real worthiness'' and "boy did they take advantage.'' … The Ringer's Michael Bauman wrote that the Rays made "absolute heists" in the Pham and Archer deals, and "a very active, very weird deadline turns out to be a huge positive for the Rays.'' … Sports Illustrated's Jon Tayler listed the Rays among the deadline winners, writing they "did well for themselves" and "the rest of 2018 won't be pretty, but the future looks brighter than expected (and also startlingly cheap)."

4. International intrigue

In three of the deals, the Rays acquired what, for lack of less clunky term, is called international slot money. (No, he doesn't pitch.) That gives the Rays the opportunity to spend an extra $1.75 million on players during the signing period that opened July 2 and runs through June — with $1 million coming from selling Schryver, a 2017 seventh-round pick having a solid Class A season. That's in addition to the $2 million they reportedly have remaining from their original $6 million allotment. Why does that matter? It's a market where relatively small investments can pay off, such as Alex Colome, Jose Alvarado and Diego Castillo all pitching their way to the majors. And one with occasional big gambles, such as INF Adrian Rondon ($2.95 million in 2014, hitting .164 after being demoted to Hudson Valley) and INF Wander Franco ($3.825 million in 2017, hitting .342 at rookie-level Princeton). Whether they spend the extra money on quantity or quality, such as bidding on the latest top prospect, Cuban OF Victor Victor Mesa, will be interesting to see.

5. Item to be named later

The return for Archer includes a third piece, a minor-leaguer to be named that even Huntington admitted was "a player of significance.'' But there seems to be some complication. Not only is the player not yet known (though reportedly it's not top 3B Ke'Bryan Hayes), the timeline seems fluid, with the reveal possibly not coming until the end of the minor-league season. … The Ramos deal, due to his injury, turned out to be more of a dump of his remaining $3.3 million salary as Phillies GM Matt Klentak said the also-to-be-named return "won't be that heavy.''

Rays rumblings

So if the Rays creep closer in the AL wild-card race, could they switch from July sellers to August buyers?. … He obviously got a late start, but 1B Jake Bauers could make a late charge into the AL rookie of the year race. … Cool to see the 2008 Rays around this weekend, but it's too bad more of the big-name not-still-actives didn't make it, such as Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Cliff Floyd and, yes, of course, Dan Johnson (playing independent ball). … Principal owner Stuart Sternberg said, seriously we think, that there will be a statue of Johnson at the new stadium. … Odds for the Rays winning the World Series via online Bovada went from 500-1 to 900-1 after the trade deadline. … When Meadows gets called up, likely in a week or two, he will wear No. 17. … RHP Sergio Romo and OF Carlos Gomez could still be moved in August waiver trades. … Still, and probably won't, understand how SS Adeiny Hechavarria wasn't of some value to some team.

Contact Marc Topkin at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

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