Friday, February 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

What to expect next as Rays still look to deal

The Rays came away from the winter meetings with a new star catcher*, a long shot bullpen candidate and an impressive spin rate for the pitches exchanged in extensive and excessive talks on what they might do next.

Here are our four takeaways on their week:

Asking for a lot in trades

With a handful of controllable and inexpensive starters, the Rays are in a strong position, given the barren free agent market and limited trade options, and they know it. The word from several interested teams is the Rays are seeking massive returns on just about everybody asked about. Even heard chatter they wanted more for RHP Chris Archer than the haul the White Sox got for more accomplished — though less controlled (three years vs. five) — LHP Chris Sale. While that might be frustrating to other teams, and not conducive for quick deals, it is also the Rays' prerogative. And as long as they don't stubbornly price themselves out of the market and miss out on an opportunity, that seems like a smart strategy.

Have to be creative

Even though there is some risk with Wilson Ramos sidelined into July as he recovers from right knee surgery — thus the * — it still was a major coup for the small-market, low-payroll, woe-is-us Rays to land the best available catcher. They took advantage of the circumstances to do so at a relative bargain, an incentive-heavy deal maxing out at $18.25 million over two years that could pay off big with production and maybe a trade return. That's the kind of deal they have to do to compete with the big boys. Similarly, it's why they say they are open to anything, why you hear mentions of them talking with teams about players they don't want to trade, such as CF Kevin Kiermaier, RHP Alex Colome and 3B Evan Longoria. They have to at least listen, in case another team wants to get crazy, then decide from there. That approach fuels the potential for a one-year deal late in the off-season with a slipped-through-the-cracks slugger such as Jose Bautista, or a similar big bat.

Still trading starter, not Archer

Though they talked plenty about Archer, the Rays put sooooo much value in the combination of his skills, upside and contract (five years of control for $38.5 million) that there doesn't seem to be any way they could feel they were getting enough for him. While teams are starting to recognize the high value the Rays see in Jake Odorizzi, that price isn't likely to be met, either. That leaves the Rays pretty much where they were going into the meetings, most likely to trade LHP Drew Smyly or RHP Alex Cobb, albeit for a lesser return, with RHP Erasmo Ramirez next.

Still want to win

Seeing the White Sox being the latest team to go into total teardown mode raises a fair question of whether the Rays — coming off 94 losses and faced with fierce AL East competition — would be wise to do the same, trading several starters, Colome, Kiermaier, Longoria, Brad Boxberger, Logan Forsythe, etc. While they haven't conversely committed to hike their payroll into "go for it" mode, instead headed toward the $70 million range, there hasn't seemed to be any such talk of dismantling and rebuilding, either. That's certainly not in the plans of manager Kevin Cash, who is determined in his third year to improve.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Could be the Rays actually add two bats, an outfielder and a 1B/DH type. ... Expect the signing of Ramos to be official early this week. … Early fangraphs.com projections for the AL East have the Red Sox at 93-69 then, the Yankees (83-79), Rays (82-80), Blue Jays (82-80), Oriolest (76-86). … Foxsports.com ranked the current Rays rotation ninth best in the majors, with the Red Sox first. … Cool move by the Rays to bring back the well-liked Steve Henderson as a minor-league hitting instructor. … RHP Kevin Gadea was the Rays' first Rule 5 draft pick since 2010. … Minor-league pick RHP Ty Hensley has two Tommy Johns surgeries in his past, and a broken jaw from an well-publicized Dec. 2014 assault. ... Cash said the longer spring training due to the World Baseball Classic creates more time/innings to look at bullpen candidates. … RHP Parker Markel, 5-3, 2.52 in 34 games at Triple-A Durham last year, signed with the Korean Lotte Giants for a reported $525,000. … Former Rays hitting coach Derek Shelton is a good fit on the Blue Jays' staff, especially given his connection with top executives from their time together in Cleveland.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]tampabay.com. Follow @ TBTimes_Rays.

Comments
Impact of Tommy John surgery cuts deeply for Brent Honeywell, Rays

Impact of Tommy John surgery cuts deeply for Brent Honeywell, Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE – Two things that tell you a lot about Rays cocksure top prospect Brent Honeywell given Friday's crushing news that he indeed tore a ligament in his prized right arm and is headed for Tommy John surgery that will sideline him wel...
Updated: 0 minutes ago
Rays open exhibition season with 6-3 win over Pirates

Rays open exhibition season with 6-3 win over Pirates

The Rays won the home game of their opening-day, split-squad set, beating the Pirates, 6-3.1B Brad Miller, with an opposite-field double off the wall, and CF Kevin Kiermaier, with a bloop single to shallow center, provided the early offense.2B Daniel...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Rays journal: Miller time could be a good time, and more from openers

Rays journal: Miller time could be a good time, and more from openers

PORT CHARLOTTE — One of the key story lines in Rays camp is seeing what kind of bounce-back season they can get out of a healthy Brad Miller, coming off October core muscle repair surgery.And while Miller isn't feeling 100 percent — he st...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Split-squad Rays hold on for 6-3 win at Orioles

Split-squad Rays hold on for 6-3 win at Orioles

SARASOTA — A split-squad team of Rays held on for a 6-3 victory Friday against the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium.Yonny Chirinos, making his debut as a Ray, tossed a pair of scoreless innings. He allowed an infield single to former Ray Tim Beckham...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Live blog: Rays open spring training season against Pirates, Orioles

Live blog: Rays open spring training season against Pirates, Orioles

The Rays open the exhibition season with not one, but two games today.Non-roster pitcher Vidal Nuno will start against the Pirates at 1:05 p.m. in Port Charlotte. Denard Span, Matt Duffy, Kevin Kiermaier, Wilson Ramos, Mallex Smith and Adeiny Hechava...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Rays’ Honeywell has torn UCL, headed for Tommy John surgery

Rays’ Honeywell has torn UCL, headed for Tommy John surgery

The Rays got the worst-case news they were dreading, that top prospect RHP Brent Honeywell has a torn UCL and is headed for Tommy John  surgery.Honeywell said he plans to have the surgery as soon as possible to expedite his return sometime in th...
Updated: 11 hours ago
For starters: Split squad opener for Rays – vs. Pirates and at Orioles, 1:05

For starters: Split squad opener for Rays – vs. Pirates and at Orioles, 1:05

With 15 teams training in Florida,  there usually has to be either be at least one team off or one team playing two games. And with today the official opening day of spring training, the Rays had the bad draw of having to play split squad games....
Updated: 12 hours ago
Rays spring training info: Friday – vs. Pirates and at Orioles

Rays spring training info: Friday – vs. Pirates and at Orioles

Friday's games:Vs. Pirates1:05, Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Road, Port Charlotte. Pitchers: Rays – LH Vidal Nuno; Pirates – RH Taylor Eppler.Radio: raysbaseball.com, MLB At Bat app (free with mlb.com account)Tickets: raysbasebal...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays holding their breath

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays holding their breath

Rays top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell left practice Thursday after throwing a handful of pitches, and the fear (now confirmed) is he might need Tommy John surgery, ending his season before it begins.In his lastest podcast, Rick Stroud has the la...
Published: 02/23/18
Brent Honeywell injury could be worst Rays news yet

Brent Honeywell injury could be worst Rays news yet

PORT CHARLOTTE — It might have seemed that things couldn't get worse for the Rays after an opening week of spring training that included the dumping of two veterans to harshly negative reviews, including from their own players; to the trade of ...
Published: 02/22/18
Updated: 02/23/18