If you believe everything being said, written and blogged, the Rays are deeply immersed in talks for Cleveland ace C.C. Sabathia, are seriously interested in Rockies closer Brian Fuentes and are stalking right-handed hitting outfielders Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, Xavier Nady and a half-dozen others.
It's trading season, with the nonwaiver deadline barely a month away, and the one thing that is certain is that the Rays are going to get a lot of play. (Another: They're not going to say much about it.)
Being in contention for the first time, with money to spend to add payroll and a treasure trove of prospects from the game's deepest farm system to offer (at a time when other teams are increasingly reluctant to part with young players), the Rays are going to look into all possibilities. And why not?
Three areas of interest are starting pitching (a veteran to cover for the inconsistencies of Edwin Jackson and Andy Sonnanstine?), an experienced late-inning reliever (to provide depth/an alternative given health concerns of Troy Percival and Al Reyes) and a right-handed hitting outfielder (though the potential of getting back Rocco Baldelli complicates things).
As in past years, they have specific players they are targeting, typically ones they can control for several seasons. What's new on their list this year is an extra column of potential "rentals," impact players who could help their playoffs push but are free agents at the end of the season. "With the way we're playing," executive VP Andrew Friedman said, "it makes more sense to have those conversations."
Sabathia — and it's important to note the Indians haven't officially decided to trade him yet — is one. The Rays couldn't afford to sign him but still would at least explore what it would take to make such a deal (and can offer more than so many other teams), knowing they could get two high draft picks as compensation when he leaves. Fuentes is another.
In any case, they'll remain judicious before giving up too much.
"We have supreme confidence in the 25 guys we have in that clubhouse right now, but we have a responsibility to look and examine the market to see if there's an area where we can upgrade," Friedman said. "We wouldn't necessarily characterize ourselves as 'buyers' or 'sellers'; we're going to be looking at it through the same lens that we look at everything, which is to be opportunistic."