KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The next 12 days leading up to the July 31 trade deadline could yield significant deals that will dramatically affect the Rays' chances to return to the playoffs and shape the foundation of the franchise for years to come.
As executive vice president Andrew Friedman works (and works and works) the phones and e-mail, he is going to consider all possibilities.
It's an interesting exercise. He doesn't have much money to play with but has a boss, Stuart Sternberg, who encourages creativity and is willing to listen, and he has prospects to deal.
And he doesn't appear to need much, given how they like what they have and their capabilities.
"We have supreme confidence in the 25 guys we have and feel like we are well-poised for a successful second half," Friedman said. "That being said, it's not our nature to be content. We're not in the business of doing something just for the sake of doing it. But we've had a lot of different conversations and will continue to do so until the deadline."
So what might they do?
Maybe a few small things.
Don't expect a high-rent closer, but they could seek a niche reliever, a sleeper type who doesn't cost much but adds a different look. Or a more productive and/or versatile bench player offering more than infielder Joe Dillon or catcher Michel Hernandez.
They'll at least sample the options to upgrade at catcher and/or rightfield, though to rattle the core it would have to be significant. Add a starting pitcher? Who goes to make room?
Theoretically, they can't afford a big deal. They're supposedly maxed out on payroll this season and over the top with the built-in raises for next, but it's hard to see them addressing that now even with chatter about Carl Crawford and his $10 million option. There's too much at stake for the overall franchise (image, new stadium) to give away a chance to win.
They're confident they're good enough to be in the race in September, Friedman said, and when that's the case, "We'll focus much more on the current year than future years."
So deal, or no deal?
"We've had lots of creative thoughts and conversations," he said. "Whether that yields anything remains to be seen. Based on how difficult it is to make deals in general, it's safer to bet on no than yes."