Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Trade rumors swirl around Rays pitchers

OAKLAND, Calif. — Matt Moore took the mound Thursday night hoping it wouldn't be his last start in a Rays uniform, and Jake Odorizzi will do the same tonight.

As the two Rays starters who have generated the most interest from other teams, both Moore and Odorizzi have heard and read their names connected to multiple teams in myriad trade rumors.

And that is only going to increase as the Aug. 1 deadline for nonwaiver deals approaches and contenders shift in the next few days from considering their options to actually making deals.

"I haven't been around all that long, but every time something like this does happen and there is this deadline, or we may need something, it does kind of shake you up a little bit and make you appreciate your teammates and where you're at even more," Moore said.

Moore and Odorizzi have been the ''most popular" topics among teams calling the Rays, though there is discussion on all their starters, including Chris Archer, who seems unlikely to be moved barring a massive return. There also has been interest in Erasmo Ramirez, who can relieve or start, and might be in lefty Xavier Cedeno. Infielder Steve Pearce is expected to be another sought-after player.

Because so many teams need pitching, the Rays would seem to be in somewhat of a position of power in that they provide multiple options. Among the half-dozen or so teams that have been scouting them heavily, the Rangers and Dodgers (scrambling with Clayton Kershaw hurt) would appear to be the best matches, as they have farm systems stocked with position players, which the Rays could use. The Pirates are another. Others seriously interested include the Astros, Marlins, Nationals and Red Sox.

As a result, Rays players are also hot topics in the rumor mill. Just Thursday, for example, there was one national report that Archer was likely headed — with a 70 percent chance — to the Dodgers and another report that he was unlikely to be traded anywhere.

Archer said he hadn't heard anything about any deal and, like his mates, "definitely would like to stay.'' But he also said he is not surprised to be rumored to be going elsewhere.

"It's just the nature of the business," he said. "I've been traded twice. At the end of the day, each organization is trying to do what's best for them. And if the Rays think that's what's best for them, then that's what they think."

Plus, he pointed out, at the end of this season he will be halfway through the six guaranteed years of his long-term deal, playing three years for $4.25 million and due $18 million for the next three, with $9 million and $11 million options after that.

"With signing my deal, I knew that this was a possibility, and I knew eventually it would it happen,'' he said. "So it's not really that surprising, to be honest, looking at where we're at and how the Rays typically do things.''

Contract status is always a factor. Moore has a $7 million option for 2017, and two others for $19 million total; Odorizzi will be eligible for arbitration for the first of three times.

Odorizzi said there isn't much they can do but wait, wonder — and sometimes laugh.

"If we didn't, we'd go crazy by now because this has been ongoing for however many weeks, and we still have 10 days to go,'' he said. "We'll pull our hair out. We might run out of jokes before the actual D day gets here. It's almost entertaining to the point of who's going to be the next person to be 'out the door' already. But so far we are all still here and hanging out.''

Manager Kevin Cash said he knows there is going to be a lot of chatter.

"I think we're going to have 10 days of dealing with this as a club, inside our clubhouse," he said. "These guys, a lot of them, have been a part of it before being here. We cannot let it become a distraction."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

 
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