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Tampa Bay Rays hot topics: Blame Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton

Not that the Rays are going to get either, but there's not much getting done until those two have teams.
Shohei Ohtani has starred as a pitcher and hitter in Japan. [ZUMA PRESS]
Shohei Ohtani has starred as a pitcher and hitter in Japan. [ZUMA PRESS]
Published Dec. 5, 2017

We don't know what moves the Rays will make this off-season, just that there will be some big ones as they look to cut payroll and decide whether to try to remain competitive or go for a rebuild. With the annual winter meetings next week at Disney, we are looking oday at some of their hottest topics:

The Rays aren't going to get Shohei Ohtani or Gianacarlo Stanton.

Stanton, the star slugger being shopped by the Marlins, was never under serious discussion by the Rays, given the $295-million remaining on his contract, and is said to be considering accepting a trade to the Cardinals or Giants, or holding out to see if the Dodgers show interest.

Ohtani, the Japanese two-way star, was a serious topic of conversation for the Rays, who felt that had a legitimate shot to lure him based  on their experience with top draft pick Brendan McKay, but found out Sunday they were eliminated at the first cut and not one of the seven teams invited to meet with Ohtani, with the Padres and Mariners now considered by some the favorites.

But the deliberation process involving those two star players appears to be holding up the Rays – and many of the other teams – from doing their own business.

For example, the Cardinals, already deep with intriguing outfield options include Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuck, are among the teams said to be interested in several of the Rays pitchers – closer Alex Colome and starters Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi. But until they know if they are getting Stanton, and what they would have to give up, they can't really risk giving away any of those pieces by making any other deals.

Similarly, the Cubs are one of the teams still in the Ohtani sweepstakes, and until they know if they are getting him or not are likely to hold off on pursuing a trade for a starting pitcher, which would cool their talks with the Rays about Archer.

So even though the Rays won't be getting either of the winter's top two targets, they still would benefit with resolution so they and the other teams can get on their business.