Monday, November 20, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays trade Matt Moore, Brandon Guyer, Steve Pearce

RECOMMENDED READING


ST. PETERSBURG

More than any of the names that were pitched, proposed or potentially pawned off, more than other deals featuring a passel of prospects or a catcher with promise, Matt Duffy was what made Monday's big deal worth doing for the Rays.

On what was an unusually busy deadline day by their standards, the Rays shipped Steve Pearce, who was of little value this season once they plummeted out of contention, to the Orioles; and they sent Brandon Guyer, who looked to be of little value (and about $2.5 million in salary) next season, to the Indians.

But the headline and, potentially, head-scratching move was trading Matt Moore, their one-time future ace, to the Giants for Duffy and two Class A prospects.

The premise is Duffy, 25, will become the Rays' frontline shortstop, bringing a better glove and broader range than they've gotten from Brad Miller, who will take his potent bat and now get time at first base and in the outfield.

One catch is that for the 2½ seasons he has been in the majors, Duffy has played primarily third base, albeit rather well. Now he will be asked to shift back to his original position, the Rays confident he has the requisite fast feet and soft hands and can "relearn" — as Duffy said — the position, giving them a solid answer to a major 2017 question.

Another is that he is currently on the disabled list, about a week from returning from a left Achilles strain sustained during a June series at the Trop, which makes him all kinds of a perfect fit for this battered bunch.

"We think he can be a very good shortstop for us," Rays baseball operations president Matt Silverman said, his voice hoarse from a long night and day on the phone. "He's a good young player to add to the mix and be part of our core going forward. And he was a big part of the motivation in the trade for Matt Moore."

Though Silverman would never share details, the Rays had other options Monday, given what he acknowledged was "overwhelming" and "incredible" interest in their pitchers overall.

They could have traded Moore for a different package. They could have dealt a different starter, Chris Archer or Jake Odorizzi or even Drew Smyly. Or they could have done nothing and waited until the winter, when the free agent market will be fallow and the trading options broader as they could engage with all teams and not just contenders.

But at some point, the Rays were going to do something. That's how they operate.

They had more than enough starting pitchers for next season, especially with the expected return of Alex Cobb. Silverman acknowledged as much, that "it's been our business plan in a way to trade from depth to address other areas of need." (And they still may well trade Archer or another starter in the offseason.)

Moore, 27, seemed all along like the most likely to go now. Sure, he had been their best pitcher for the past six weeks and was looking more like the front-end starter from before his April 2014 Tommy John elbow surgery. But there would always be that injury risk, plus an escalating salary, as he was due either a $7 million salary or $2.5 million buyout for 2017, with options of $9 million and $10 million after that.

Moore had made it clear he wanted to stay with the only organization he knew, and he admitted Monday when the 4 p.m. deadline passed that he thought he was clear, only to get the word minutes later. "Right now," he said outside the Rays clubhouse, "there's a lot of different feelings floating around." Ex-mates felt the same, Archer saying it was a tough, emotional goodbye.

Duffy told the San Francisco Chronicle he had similarly mixed emotions, that it was "going to hurt for a while" leaving the Giants, but he was "really excited" to join the Rays, with the added benefit to play alongside Evan Longoria, whom he met at a Long Beach State baseball camp and has followed ever since. (Also, for what it's worth, he has a 35-pound cat named Skeeter.)

Pearce was hardly surprised at being traded given that he was on a one-year, $4.75 million deal and appealed to several contenders, dealt for defense-oriented Class A catching prospect Jonah Heim after no bigger deal arose.

As much as Pearce wanted to stay, he said rejoining the Orioles, for whom he played from 2012-15, "is going to make the transition a lot easier. Couldn't be happier where I'm going."

Guyer, conversely, was totally shocked at being dealt — "No idea at all," he said. "It's bittersweet" — as he headed to join an Indians team that had long eyed him based on his success vs. lefties and ability to get on base, including his record hit by pitch numbers. With Mikie Mahtook in line to take Guyer's spot next season, the Rays got an early start on a winter move by dealing him now, for two minor-leaguers.

Overall, the trades saved the Rays around $4.5 million this year and at least as much next year based on Guyer's salary and Moore's buyout. Seeing Moore pitch in the playoffs (against Joe Maddon's Cubs?) while the Rays are sitting home could sting, but it shouldn't. And obviously there is the potential for one or two of the acquired prospects — such as the intriguing Lucius Fox from the Giants — to develop into something special.

But this deal, on this day, will be judged on Silverman and Co., whose initial trades haven't worked out that well yet, being right on Duffy.

"If you look at the club today going forward, projecting into next year, we should be a more talented club," Silverman said. "We expect to compete again. Recharge, get refocused and go back after it next year."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected].

     
     
Comments
Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

Rays agonize over which prospects to protect on 40-man roster

ST. PETERSBURG — That the Rays went right up to Monday’s 8 p.m. deadline in deciding to add seven players to the 40-man roster, and that a couple they left off seem to be potential Rule 5 draft losses, was apparently a good thing."There’s always some...
Updated: 3 hours ago
UPDATE: RHP Brent Honeywell among 7 added to Rays 40-man roster

UPDATE: RHP Brent Honeywell among 7 added to Rays 40-man roster

UPDATE, 8:11: RHP Jose Mujica was an additional addition to the roster, beyond the six previously reported. Mujica, 21, was 14-8, 3.04 ERA in 27 starts between Class-A Charlotte and Double-A Montgomery.So among those left unprotected and potentially ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Former Devil Ray Aubrey Huff among newcomers to Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

Former Devil Ray Aubrey Huff among newcomers to Baseball Hall of Fame ballot

Aubrey Huff isn't going to make the Baseball Hall of Fame.But at least the former Devil Rays standout has the satisfaction of making the cut to get onto the ballot, one of 19 first-timers up for election this year.Other newcomers with Rays ties are O...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

Topkin: As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?

After collecting intelligence at last week’s GM meetings, the Rays soon will launch their offseason mission of trading at least a couple of veterans to reduce payroll.The question is how far they will go — how many players they deal, and how big of n...
Published: 11/18/17
Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

Rocco Baldelli’s promotion on Rays coaching staff now makes him major league field coordinator

The Rays completed the reorganization of their coaching staff by giving Rocco Baldelli the title of major league field coordinator.In being promoted from first-base coach, Baldelli will implement ideas and information from the staff, while assisting ...
Published: 11/17/17
Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

Rays hope to cash in on Alex Cobb leaving

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays were banking on pitcher Alex Cobb declining their one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer based on the lure of a longer-term and more lucrative deal elsewhere as a free agent.With that decision official Thursday, now the ...
Published: 11/16/17
Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

Commissioner Rob Manfred likes Ybor City stadium site, but must see more support to keep baseball in Tampa Bay

LAKE BUENA VISTA — MLB commissioner Rob Manfred didn’t want to talk Thursday about what might happen if the current effort to build the Rays a new stadium at the Ybor City site falls through."I’m more focused on working with the community to figure o...
Published: 11/16/17
A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

A message to Rays fans from Alex Cobb

Here is a message from RHP Alex Cobb after he officially left the Rays Thursday in declining their one-year, $17.4-milllion qualifying offer to seek a bigger and longer pact elsewhere:"Getting to this point in my career is truly bittersweet."Twelve y...
Published: 11/16/17
UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE: Rays to gain draft pick for loss of free agent pitcher Alex Cobb

UPDATE, 5:01: Cobb did not accept the offer by the deadline, as expected.DEVELOPING: Sometime before today's 5 p.m. deadline, the Rays will get official word that their $17.4-million slight gamble on Alex Cobb paid off.The Rays made the free-agent ri...
Published: 11/16/17
As he prepares to leave the Rays, how will you remember Alex Cobb?

As he prepares to leave the Rays, how will you remember Alex Cobb?

Presuming Alex Cobb declines the Rays’ one-year, $17.4-million qualifying offer by 5 p.m. today, he has pitched his last game for Tampa Bay.Cobb has received preliminary interest from "lots of teams" already, agent Dan Horwits said. The Cubs and Twin...
Published: 11/16/17