Sunday, June 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays’ trade silence likely a short-lived phenomenon

LAKE BUENA VISTA — There were a lot of reasons the Rays didn’t start the process of trading some of their bigger-name, higher-paid players at last week’s winter meetings.

Most obvious was them not finding the just-right deal to move closer Alex Colome, 3B Evan Longoria, starters Chris Archer and/or Jake Odorizzi and others. Another seemed to be the Orioles tossing Manny Machado into the market, understandably leading several teams to at least put aside what they were doing to look, including the Cardinals, with whom the Rays match up with very well and remain very much engaged on multiple trade scenarios.

Beyond that, there is the remarkably slow pace of the overall market for trades and signings. Many attribute that to the high number of manager and staff changes and the two big early off-season deals — the signing of Shohei Ohtani and trade of Giancarlo Stanton — delaying other action.

But there’s another reason, which could mean this is the new norm, in that all front offices have gotten smarter and homogenized in their thinking.

They now value players much the same way, especially young, low-cost big-leaguers and top prospects; they are reluctant to give up big chunks of the future for any veteran; and it’s tougher to agree on big packages because even the players on the margin are debated. In short, it’s hard to deal like the Rays did with Matt Garza, James Shields and even Wil Myers.

Also, though this is not universal, the Rays are among teams that prefer not to do business at the meetings. They’d rather gather info there, but wait until they get home — and aren’t going days with little or no sleep due to all-night discussions, don’t have people constantly pushing for face-to-face meetings — to make more rational and thoughtful decisions.

That said, here are some leftover thoughts:

• As much as it understandably would pain Rays fans, execs with several other teams expect Longoria to be dealt before he gains no-trade status in April. Circumstances are much different, but the Stanton situation had to be a lesson.

• Teams we heard with interest, to various degrees, in Archer include the Astros, Braves, Cubs, Cards, Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Yankees, Twins. For Longoria, Cardinals, Giants, Mets and Yankees. For what it’s worth, Rays GM Erik Neander said he isn’t philosophically opposed to trading with other AL East teams.

• Didn’t expect RHP Tommy Hunter to be the first of the Rays nine big-league free agents sign, much less to parlay a season that started as a camp invitee into a two-year, $18 million deal with the Phillies. He did better than RHP Steve Cishek, though $12 to $14 million over two from the Cubs is good, too. RHP Alex Cobb and 1B/DH Logan Morrison will get the biggest deals.

• Don’t know which of three former Rays taking over as first-time managers in the NL East will have the most success, but Philadelphia’s Gabe Kapler will provide the most interesting quotes. For example, talking last week about the importance of "environment building" and saying how the coaching staff, front office and various departments in the organization "are the soil and our players are the plants and the trees that are going to grow in that soil. So that soil has to be extremely nutrient dense." Mickey Callaway will have his own issues with the Mets, and Dave Martinez with the Nats.

Not so minor matters: Hearing Dan DeMent will get promoted to the Rays Triple-A hitting coach and that Rick Knapp is a strong candidate on the pitching side. Knapp, the Tigers’ big-league pitching coach for 2 ½ seasons, has an extensive background in the minors and is working for MLB International through year end. Also, advanced Class A Charlotte manager Michael Johns is headed to a field coordinator role, with Jim Morrison likely to return to the Stone Crabs dugout.

Rays rumblings: Expect lots of 20-year anniversary promotions this season, maybe even a live action re-creation of the 1998 first-ever first pitch by Wilson Alvarez. … Not sure what Fox Sports Sun is planning to fill out its TV crew, but a new hire will be the fourth person in the reporter role in five seasons, following Kelly Nash, Emily Austen and Alex Corddry. … Director-level employees let go by the Rays recently include Jon Dougherty (game production), Amy Miller (marketing), Tom Karac and Scott Kelyman (stadium operations). Adding former St. Pete assistant police chief Jim Previtera to be in charge of security and stadium ops is a solid hire. … Good to see ex-Rays OF Melvin (B.J.) Upton get a deal with the Indians after going to the GM and winter meetings for face-to-face talks. … Wildest thing I heard last week was a scenario where one of the Florida teams goes to Montreal and the other ends up under Lightning owner Jeff Vinik’s control. … Pretty good year for Craig Albernaz, who gets championship rings for being a coach at Durham and manager at short-season Class Hudson Valley and now is spending the winter in Australia as a coach for Perth. … 2015 top pick OF Garrett Whitley, by the way, is hitting .306 with a .958 OPS for the Heat and got All-Star consideration. … In some way, the Tampa Florida State League team changing its to name to Tarpons from Yankees should benefit the Rays from a branding standpoint. … Figured the Rays would sign RHP Michael Pineda as the next ex-Yankee-rehabbing-from-Tommy-John-surgery after Chase Whitley and Nate Eovaldi, but the Twins did.

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

Comments
Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

Rays team up to beat Yankees again 4-0

ST. PETERSBURG — With all that's been said, tweeted, ranted and written on these pages and elsewhere about the Rays' odd, unorthodox, weird and some days downright wacky pitching plan, this might be the craziest thing yet:It's working.Like, rea...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Besides the continual evolution of their intriguing pitching plan, the primary topics of conversation for the Rays over the next several weeks will be trades and prospects. And not mutually exclusively.Some sooner than others, the Rays are going to c...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays journal: New confidence carries over for Willy Adames

Rays journal: New confidence carries over for Willy Adames

ST. PETERSBURG — The key to SS Willy Adames rapping two of the biggest hits in the Rays' 4-0 win Saturday actually took place the night before.An RBI single that snapped an 0-for-12 and a second hit two winnings later in Friday's game restored ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Yankees game

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Saturday’s Rays-Yankees game

INF Daniel Robertson has only played two games after a short DL stint, but it seems like he has already made a half dozen great plays. Willy Adames and Jake Bauers get the attention, but Robertson has the skills to steal the show any night.It is obvi...
Updated: 7 hours ago
For starters: Rays vs. Yankees, looking for two straight

For starters: Rays vs. Yankees, looking for two straight

UPDATE, 2:38: Clarifying what was a communication error with the team PR staff, Rays manager Kevin Cash said LHP Blake Snell was slated for an extra day's rest all along and will face the Nationals on Monday not the Yankees on Sunday. The Rays will u...
Published: 06/23/18
Rodney Page’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

Rodney Page’s takeaways from Rays-Yankees

1. SS Willy Adames had a nice night, and there appear to be many more in his future. He had two hits, an RBI and an inning-ending leaping catch on a line drive by Didi Gregorius in the fifth.2. DH C.J. Cron needs to shake things up. Take a different ...
Published: 06/22/18
Marc Anthony pays a visit to the Trop

Marc Anthony pays a visit to the Trop

By Allana BarefieldTimes Staff WriterST. PETERSBURG — Latin pop star Marc Anthony visited Tropicana Field on Friday to see his beloved Yankees play the Rays.Anthony spent nearly an hour on the field before the game as fans and players surrounde...
Published: 06/22/18
Rays journal: Daniel Robertson’s return crowds up infield

Rays journal: Daniel Robertson’s return crowds up infield

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays reinstated INF Daniel Robertson from the 10-day disabled list (left hamstring strain). To make room, RHP Austin Pruitt was sent to Triple-A Durham."It's out of my mind. I don't think about (the hamstring) when I'm bend...
Published: 06/22/18
Rays hang on for a 2-1 win over Yankees

Rays hang on for a 2-1 win over Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG – Many times this season the Rays' strategy of opening the game with a short reliever and using the bullpen to finish hasn't had much success.Friday wasn't one of those nights.A total of six pitchers held the Yankees and their va...
Published: 06/22/18
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...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18