Friday, July 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Pitchers hoping Rays keep rotation together

LOS ANGELES — Matt Moore has been in the Tampa Bay organization since 2007 and with the big-league team since 2011. The thought that tonight could be his last start for the Rays is not a comforting one.

Moore is one of several Rays pitchers to be mention prominently in trade rumors in advance of Monday's deadline for nonwaiver deals, and a case can be made that he — more than Chris Archer or Jake Odorizzi — is the one most likely to go.

"I'd be surprised, and that's really for no reason other than that's how much I'm here in this room right now," Moore said Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. "I can't imagine myself being somewhere else. I'm going to be here until I'm not. Maybe a few weeks ago, for the first time seeing my name thrown in the mix, had a little bit of my attention, but to be honest with you since then I've just moved on to, this is where I'm at right now and I'm not going to be anywhere else until I am."

Moore's contract status is one of the mitigating factors as Rays officials weigh interest and offers. He is headed toward the first of three option years, due either a $7 million salary for 2017 or a $2.5 million buyout on the long-term deal he signed in December 2011. The Dodgers (conveniently), Pirates and Rangers are the teams considered most interested, with the Astros, Giants, Marlins and Red Sox among others.

"To me (the $7 million option), it just doesn't seem like something that would be worth getting rid of just yet," Moore said. "Seeing where we're at next year, it seems like we have that good group of core guys. Guys that have been here and know what it was like when we went to the playoffs. …

"So I think there's some value there for us to stay around and continue to set the tone."

Moore isn't alone in wanting the Rays to keep the rotation together, as Archer — who started Tuesday — and Odorizzi say the same.

"I think we'd all like to stay and keep what we have together," Odorizzi said. "We know what we have as a starting staff. We haven't really shown it too well this year, but we have the ability to do something special once we are all kind of ourselves. So I guess we'll see come Aug. 1 if we're still here."

Veteran third baseman Evan Longoria similarly would like to see the core remain intact.

"Hopefully we don't do anything too big," he said. "I love the pieces that we have, and I think that with the proper additions we can be a real competitive team for some years to come with the pitching and the offensive pieces that we have."

Baseball operations president Matt Silverman, working from St. Petersburg, shares little this time of year, so rumors involving the Rays tend to abound.

Manager Kevin Cash said he thinks Moore and the other starters have handled it well, as they've pitched their best of the season. The streak of six quality starts they took into Tuesday's game is their longest since September 2014.

"I haven't told them anything — they're mature enough to know what's going on," Cash said. "Brief conversations here and there. The guys have done a good job not reading into too much. Obviously it hasn't affected them because I think if you go back the last three weeks, we've probably put together our best string of starts, obviously with plenty of speculation and rumors out there. I don't think it's affecting them whatsoever."

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

 
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