Live from Nashville, mid-Wednesday report
UPDATE, 3:37: Manager Joe Maddon called Ben Zobrist, who finished last season at shortstop, and told him about the Escobar deal and resulting position shift, and Zobrist - no surprise - welcomed the improvement to the team. "I'm good with it,'' he told the Times later.
BREAKING: After making deals on the first two days of the winter meetings to land 1B James Loney and SS Yunel Escobar, Rays officials are apparently still hard at work in their suite as none are around the lobby of the Opryland Hotel this morning.
The Rays still need to add several players, with holes at DH and for a right-handed hitter who can play first or the outfield or possibly both, a couple relievers (with incumbents Kyle Farnsworth and J.P. Howell both possibilities) and maybe another catcher.
But they also are still talking about trading one of their starters, with James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson (or maybe Wade Davis) the more likely to go, as has been the case all along. Having filled a few holes, the Rays, in theory, have more freedom to explore all scenarios, whether prospects or major-league ready players, for what they could get in return.
The Royals and Rangers are the teams you hear the most about, but the Diamondbacks are among other possibilities. There has been a series of ongoing talks involve numerous versions of multi-team trades, as the Rangers seem determined to get a top starter and an impact bat (Justin Upton?), as they also negotiate with free agents Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton.
Other items of interest:
* Former Rays 1B/DH Dan Johnson has interest in returning, though is considering an offer and may end up in Japan.
* The battle for free-agent Greinke seems to be down to the Rangers and Dodgers.
* Former Rays INF Jeff Keppinger has been a popular subject for discussion among the Yankees and others, with some reports he is seeking as much as $13-million over three years.