Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Free-agent market opening up for Rays

The Rays have spent much of the offseason talking trades, with the Cubs and Rockies among others, in an effort to add a hitter. But with a glut of players still on the free-agent market and prices dropping as spring training nears, they are in position to at least explore some unexpected options.

Such as, Ian Desmond and even Justin Upton.

Or, more realistically, Pedro Alvarez or Steve Pearce.

Though it would take some extremely creative negotiating, with discounts to compensate for the lost draft pick, the Rays could emerge as players if Upton or Desmond were interested in a one-year "pillow" contract to rebuild their value.

More likely, they will set their sights a shelf lower. Pearce, the Lakeland product let go by Baltimore, would be a good fit given his tenacity and versatility. Alvarez, non-tendered by Pittsburgh, would bring needed lefty power. Marlon Byrd (last with the Giants), Justin Morneau (Rockies), David Murphy (Angels) are among others of legit interest.

The Rays have not given up on the trade route. They have what they consider a surplus of pitching, though they may feel better about trading a starter (Jake Odorizzi? Drew Smyly?) while the market may be more conducive to dealing a reliever, with Jake McGee most likely. The Cubs still have Javier Baez and also Jorge Soler, the Rockies Corey Dickerson and also Charlie Blackmon, and there are certainly other possibilities.

Though a lefty swinging outfielder would seem the best fit, the Rays can be flexible. To add a free agent, they'd need the blessing of principal owner Stuart Sternberg, who previously has been willing to expand the payroll for unexpected additions, such as Rafael Soriano and Grant Balfour Part 2.

It would help if they could first find a taker for first baseman James Loney, even if they have to pay some of his $8 million salary, to clear a space. There should be a more defined market now that Chris Davis has re-signed with the Orioles.

Still, the timing could be tricky, as the Rays may have to balance waiting out one of the free agents versus making a trade when it's on the table. But as mid January cedes to late, they have more options than they would have expected.

— mtopkin@tampabay.com

A few words about any potential new stadium ...

Two interesting takeaways from the stadium-search vote: one, principal owner Stuart Sternberg mentioning natural grass when at least a retractable roof seems mandatory; two, a clause that allows the Rays, if they find a site and initiate the process of leaving the Trop, to move up to 10 games during the final seasons to an out-of-area location, which really seems no more than an accommodation to potential MLB scheduling. — Marc Topkin

Free-agent market opening up for Rays 01/17/16 [Last modified: Sunday, January 17, 2016 7:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze resigns over "inappropriate conduct"

    College

    OXFORD, Miss. — Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze was at Jackson Country Club on Wednesday night, giving his yearly rah-rah speech about the Rebels' overcoming adversity and getting ready for the college football season.

    If Hugh Freeze hadn’t resigned, Ole Miss says it would have fired him for violating his contract’s moral turpitude clause.
  2. Fennelly: With playoff chase in high gear, it's time for Rays to make a move

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Thursday was an off-day for the Rays, who are coming off a solid western swing. I assume there was no rest for the tag-team Rays baseball brain trust of Matt Silverman, Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom, whose job it is to improve this team in advance of the trade deadline. They've done a good job …

    Evan Longoria is glad to see the Rangers coming to town: He’s batting .296 against them with 15 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 career games.
  3. Rays vs. Rangers, 7:10 p.m. Friday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Rangers

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Good news for Rays on Steven Souza Jr. as MRI shows 'no damage' to hip

    Blogs

    The Rays got good news today on RF Steven Souza Jr., as an MRI showed "no damage" to his left hip.

    Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.
  5. Bucs raise prices for single tickets to marquee games

    Blogs

    The Bucs will have single-game tickets for 2017 home games on sale July 28, with a new wrinkle: the best games will cost more for fans.

    Bucs fans cheer Jameis Winston after a victory in their final home game of the 2016 season. Individual tickets for the Bucs' three most coveted home games (against the Patriots, Bears and Giants) will cost more in 2017.