Friday, February 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays unlikely to make major trade before Tuesday deadline

OAKLAND, Calif. — What started as a roar of rumors about numerous Rays players was down to barely a whisper by Monday night. And unless something unexpected happens in the final hours — which it can with one phone call — it looks like the Rays will get to today's 4 p.m. deadline for nonwaiver trades without making a deal.

"Extremely quiet," manager Joe Maddon said after exchanging text messages with executive vice president Andrew Friedman before Monday's game. "There's nothing to think about for me right now. It's just play today and not worry about anything because it's probably going to look like this right after trade deadline also."

As a further sign, Maddon said he had "not even thought about" a contingency plan if the Rays did deal James Shields, who is scheduled to start tonight.

Most of the speculation has involved Shields who, with Zack Greinke traded to the Angels and Cole Hamels signed to an extension with the Phillies, was considered one of the top available starters.

Shields, while acknowledging the situation could change, said he doesn't expect anything to happen, either. "It's looking like more and more I'm going to stay here," he said. "I plan on pitching (tonight)."

Outfielder B.J. Upton, whose name has also been mentioned in some reports, said he and Shields have had a bit of a running joke over the past few weeks: "We see each other and it's kind of like, 'You're still here? I'm still here.' "

Shields and Upton both said they take it as a sign of confidence the front office has in the current squad, which began play Monday two games out of the second wild-card spot.

"I don't see them breaking any of this up," Upton said. "We're playing well and we're playing well against teams we need to play well against."

The other possibility would be to supplement what they have. But the prime areas for improvement are shortstop and catcher, where significant (and affordable, which can be a different issue) upgrades are hard to find and seem unlikely.

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