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Winter meetings journal: Rays closer Alex Colome drawing interest

Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Alex Colome (37) keeps an eye on Boston Red Sox third baseman Tzu-Wei Lin (73) during the ninth inning of an MLB game between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Sunday, July 9, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT | Times
Published Dec. 11, 2017

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays made a small deal Monday in acquiring INF Joey Wendle from Oakland while continuing to discuss bigger ones that seem likely to eventually lead to the trade of closer Alex Colome and then others.

The Rockies and Mets joined the Cardinals and Cubs as teams most interested in Colome, whose projected $5.5 million salary and three years until free agency make him a hot commodity, especially with mid-level relievers such as Pat Neshek getting $16 million over two years (from the Phillies).

The Rays also are getting a predictable high volume of interest in starting RHP Chris Archer, who is under control for four years at a very reasonable $34 million, with the Braves, Brewers and Twins joining the Cards, Cubs and others. As one competing exec said when asked how many teams were in on Archer, "Who wouldn't be."

There was also some industry chatter that the Angels could emerge as a potential partner in a deal for 3B Evan Longoria.

Overall, Rays GM Erik Neander said they had productive discussions but were not close to any deals.

"Still more talk and not as much action at this point, but we've got a lot to think about in terms of how to get our team to the level of quality that we feel like we need to be at," he said. "Still considering a lot of different possibilities and directions, and that'll probably be the case as we go forward throughout the winter here as we keep an open mind."

In Wendle, the Rays got a 27-year-old lefty hitter with some time in the majors (hitting .266 in 36 games), a solid record in the minors and a reputation as a standout defensive player at second base with some versatility.

"Grinder-type player, high baseball IQ," Neander said. "He's worked to really put himself in the position where his defense is today. … This is a guy when balls are hit in (his) vicinity, somehow, some way he's finding a way to get to them more often and he's completing plays at a really high rate."

Wendle, designated for assignment last week, was acquired for cash or a player to be named and has a minor-league option remaining. The Rays now have 38 on their roster.

Cash report

Rays manager Kevin Cash shared a few interesting items during his media room session. One was that at times, they may carry an eighth reliever, especially if they have a bench player who can play infield and outfield. Another was that "there's definitely room" to get OF Mallex Smith in the lineup to take advantage of his speed, which doesn't portend well for Corey Dickerson sticking around, or at least playing leftfield. And, Cash knows there needs to be "constant selling" to the pitchers about their plan to pull some starters early in games.

Ranking of the day

15 Cash, up from 20, on Craig Calcaterra's nbcsports.com's annual ranking of "most handsome managers": "Last year I compared him to a tobacco-chewing Mark Ruffalo. Now maybe I'm seeing a young Vincent D'Onofrio?''

Fame game

RHP Jack Morris and SS Alan Trammell both got emotional in describing their reaction to being voted into the Hall of Fame by the Modern Era committee after failing to be elected by the BBWAA.

Morris said being chosen by his peers made him even more proud: "I was determined to tell the world after this ballot that, if I didn't make it, maybe I have to start accepting the fact that I was that guy really close because somewhere along the line, there's going to be those guys. And I was okay with it. I came to peace with it. So I'm overwhelmed. I'm grateful. I'm honored and very humbled. But I think the time has taught me more valuable lessons than that itself, and if I can't share it with people that care, I'm an island. I want to share it."

Trammell, similarly, said: "Extremely honored and proud and humbled to be a part of this. I still again have a hard time saying that, 'Hall of Famer, Alan Trammell,' but I guess I'd better get used to it. To be part of a dream team, you can't envision that. Young boy, all I wanted to do was become a Major League Baseball player. And now to become a Hall of Famer, it's really undescribable."

Quote of the day

"When I was hired and (then baseball operations president Matt Silverman) told me this was a good idea."

Rays manager Kevin Cash, on buying into the idea of pulling starters early.

Miscellany

• Noted pitching analyst Josh Kalk, who left the Rays in October after nine seasons, has signed on with the Twins.

• As Giancarlo Stanton pulled on his new No. 27 Yankees jersey, details came out that the three teams he would accept a trade to were the Astros, Cubs and Dodgers, and that the Marlins had threatened to keep him if he didn't approve one of the initial deals they struck with the Cardinals and Giants.

• In ex-Rays updates: RHP Alex Cobb remains a prime option for the Cubs, Rangers and Yankees, RHP Tommy Hunter is reported to be of interest to the Mets and 1B Logan Morrison is not close to signing with the Rockies, as had been reported. OF Melvin (formerly B.J.) Upton was at the meetings seeking to sign after missing most of 2017 with injuries.

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