Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays keep options open heading into GM meetings

Just because the Rays made an unexpectedly early deal to fill two holes in acquiring SS Brad Miller and DH/1B/OF Logan Morrison doesn't mean they won't have a lot more to talk about this offseason.

Team execs head to Boca Raton for this week's GM meetings with their focus narrowed but their options wide open.

"Our desire to improve the team and the organization is constant, and we still have some areas to address," baseball operations president Matt Silverman said. "That's where our depth will come in handy. It's going to be a busy offseason for sure, and in February we'll look back and see how much actual activity there was."

Given that the Rays typically don't venture into free agency until later — when their currency of playing time can be worth more than money to players still on the market — the focus will continue to be on trades.

And that doesn't only include deals to add to the big-league team. For example, trading 1B James Loney — and his $8 million salary — looks now to be a key in opening playing time for Richie Shaffer, allowing Morrison to be used differently and creating financial and roster flexibility to add a hitter.

Plus, the Rays are known for being open to talking about anything, and any player. In 13 months since taking over, Silverman has made 13 deals involving 45 players. This offseason won't be one and done.

"The pace won't change," he said. "The rumors will still fly. But we can narrow our focus a bit, now that we've crossed a couple items off the to-do list."

TRADE TALK: Besides getting out of spacious Safeco Field, getting into the Rays' more relaxed clubhouse atmosphere also is expected to do both newcomers good, Morrison noting how it will help Miller to be "freed up" from too much coaching input. … Miller was on his way to Clemson for Saturday's big FSU game when he got word of the trade and said his second call, after his girlfriend, was to Shaffer, ex-Tigers and now Rays teammate. … Morrison raved about Miller's work ethic and talent but also cracked, "He runs like a baby giraffe." (FWIW, Miller agreed.) … Miller said the free-spirited Morrison brings a lot of energy and is "an absolute beast — he's really strong and can hit the ball a mile." … Seems like a stretch for Mariners GM Jerry DiPoto to be counting on OF prospect Boog Powell to impact their 2016 team. … Text from a non-Rays scout after the trade: "LoMo will hit."

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Team president Brian Auld considered results of the St. Peter City Council election a good sign for progress on the stadium situation: "We're optimistic that there's a deal to be reached." … CF Kevin Kiermiaer seems the favorite to win a Gold Glove, 3B Evan Longoria not as much. Announcement is Tuesday. … Port Charlotte's advanced Class A Stone Crabs are being sold by Ripken Baseball to a group led by former Triple-A Pawtucket (R.I.) chief Lou Schwechheimer. The Charlotte Sun's Josh Vitale reports no changes are planned to the spring or minor-league arrangements. … The Rays are a midpack 33-1 to win the 2016 World Series per Bovada's initial odds; Joe Maddon's Cubs are 11-1 favorites. … Farm director Mitch Lukevics is among the inductees into the Florida State League Hall of Fame at Tuesday's Clearwater banquet. Also to be inducted: Rays merchandising manager Debbie Brooks, who in 1987 was the FSL's first female GM with the Tampa Tarpons. … Neil Solondz did some good stuff on the Rays' prospects in the Arizona Fall League at raysbaseball.com/prospectspotlight. … With VP Chaim Bloom staying (for now) after interviewing for two GM jobs, expect the Rays to fill Matt Arnold's position internally by naming a pro scouting director. … Strong reviews for RHP Chris Archer's TV work included this tweet from ESPN's John Buccigross: "Of all the new faces as baseball analysts this postseason, no doubt who was the best." … New marketing exec Jeff Cogen hits town this week to start sorting out responsibilities. … Former Rays bench coach Dave Martinez is the latest to interview, but still expect former Rays player Gabe Kapler to end up managing former Rays boss Andrew Friedman's Dodgers.

Contact Marc Topkin at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

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