Rays still talking but no deals imminent
With depth in starting and late-inning relief pitching and prices soaring, the Rays are in an increasingly good position to explore trades.
After having discussions with the Cubs during last week's winter meetings that included rehabbing RHP Alex Cobb in a potential deal for INF Javier Baez, the Rays are talking again - but not set to make any deals yet.
Though they were reported Thursday to be in talks with the Dodgers about RHP Jake Odorizzi according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, and ESPN's Jayson Stark said there was industry speculation about the possibility, the Times has heard from several sources that no deal is imminent.
The Dodgers are a logical trade partner for the Rays in that they need pitching - especially after a reported physical issue that could scuttle a proposed deal with RHP Hisashi Iwakuma - and have high-end prospects, young big-leaguers (OF Joc Pederson, for example) and veterans whose contracts they could pay large chunks of that might appeal to the Rays, with OF Yasiel Puig the most intriguing.
And there is the additional interesting dynamic of the Dodgers now being run by Andrew Friedman, who spent 9 years building the Rays and is familiar with much of their talent, and remains close friends with his successor, Matt Silverman.
Odorizzi, 26 in March, is an interesting trade candidate, as he doesn't have overwhelming stuff but has been successful since joining the Rays in the December 2012 Wil Myers/James Shields trade with Kansas City, going 20-22 with a 3.74 ERA over the last two seasons, missing about six weeks in 2015 due to an oblique injury. Odorizzi is a 2016 bargain in his final season before arbitration eligibility, and not eligible for free agency until 2020.
The timing of the report is interesting coming shortly after the Rays made a proposal for a multi-year contract extension to Odorizzi that, based on their typical such deals, would cover his arbitration years and include options for his first couple of free agent years. Odorizzi's agent called it a "nice initial offer" and planned to make a counter-proposal, but Odorizzi being mentioned in trade talks could be a sign that the extension negotiations have stalled or totally broken down. Or that the Rays think rumors of a potential trade could spur Odorizzi to reconsider.
The Rays also could offer LHP Drew Smyly, LHP Matt Moore or Cobb, who is eyeing an August return from Tommy John elbow surgery.
There was also a report Thursday by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal that the Rays had talked to the Rockies about trading a starter for an outfielder, but the Rays already have a surplus there.