Advertisement
  1. Rays

Yankees' acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton may hasten Rays' dismantling

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) after popping up foul in the first inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 4, 2017.
Published Dec. 11, 2017

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The latest obstacle keeping the Rays from contending in the American League East loomed even larger Monday afternoon in pinstripes.

The Yankees' formal introduction of Giancarlo Stanton also could be an accelerant to the departure of Evan Longoria, and some familiar for-the-moment teammates, as the Rays acknowledge and accept that the gap between them and the best team in their division is now a gulf.

"It's a challenge," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "They made it a little more challenging now with their latest acquisition."

Rays officials are already considering whether to deal away a number of veterans in taking a step back to rebuild with a younger, cheaper core geared to compete in what they hope will be a brighter, not-too-distant future.

Engaged in conversations on various fronts, they will soon start dealing at least to lower their payroll, with closer Alex Colome likely the first to go, probably sooner than later, with chatter Monday that the Rockies and Mets have joined the Cardinals and Cubs among those in hottest pursuit.

Starter Chris Archer also has been a hot topic. Over the coming weeks, Longoria, starter Jake Odorizzi, catcher Wilson Ramos, outfielder/DH Corey Dickerson, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, infielder Brad Miller and (least likely) Kevin Kiermaier are likely to all be in at least discussions.

Seeing what they are up against — the Yankees' unveiling at the winter meetings providing the visual — should just expedite the Rays' decisions.

"It impacts things," GM Erik Neander said. "It makes them a better team, and that has an effect on us as it does the other clubs in our division, league and so on. So it's something. But I think at the end of the day we really have to stay focused on our roster, the talent we have and letting that play out."

Look at it this way: The Yankees were 11 games better than the Rays last season, have added the NL MVP in Stanton without giving up much and have money left to still get a top starting pitcher, with — touche — familiar face Alex Cobb among the possibilities.

Vegas oddsmakers are already impressed enough to move the Yankees to the top of the tote board, now 5-1 favorites to win the World Series, per Bovada.lv.

The Rays are going the other direction, with Cobb and eight others now free agents, a few other small pieces discarded and bigger deals coming.

"These are exciting times," Yankees GM Brian Cashman said. "Today's a day of welcoming a new addition to our band of merry men."

Stanton, who flexed some of his muscle in steering the deal given a full no-trade clause, said the Yankees were an obvious choice.

"Just watching them from afar, seeing their young, dynamic group, the way they flow together on the field, how they never give up, never quit, the atmosphere, the storied franchise," he said. "There's not much you can say about why you wouldn't want to be there."

In looking at how the Yankees are improving, the Rays also can't ignore the ugly reality of the Marlins' side of the deal, given the basic similarities of a team with low attendance finding itself in the predicament of cutting payroll and trading its cornerstone player.

(Worse, for the Marlins, Stanton took shots on his way out with the 10 years and $295 million still owed, noting the "unprofessional, circus times" in Miami and suggesting remaining fans who want to stick with them through "more tough years" should "maybe watch from afar.")

Marlins CEO Derek Jeter spoke repeatedly on a conference call about the need for "financial flexibility" and patience in rebuilding the organization from the bottom up because "what's been in place here has not been working."

Also, he said that the key to success depends on getting fans "engaged" again and "back in the stands" with a team they feel has "an opportunity to win."

The Rays can take some solace in that they aren't in as bad a position as the Marlins — though without the newer stadium.

But they also have to realize how far they are from the Yankees and, presuming they make a counter move (J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Jose Abreu?), the Red Sox.

And that should tell them something.

Marc Topkin can be reached at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. The Nationals' Juan Soto hits a two-run double off Astros starter Gerrit Cole during the fifth inning of the World Series opener. Soto also hits a solo home run. ERIC GAY  |  AP
    Washington holds on for a 5-4 victory in Houston.
  2. Nicholas, a rescued bottlenose dolphin at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, made his World Series pick. Photo provided by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
    The Astros opened as the biggest World Series favorite in 12 seasons. But check out what’s going on poolside at Clearwater Marine Aquarium before making your bets.
  3. Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer warms up during batting practice for baseball's World Series Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, in Houston. The Houston Astros face the Washington Nationals in Game 1 on Tuesday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) DAVID J. PHILLIP  |  AP
    Predictions from Marc Topkin, Martin Fennelly and John Romano.
  4. Karsyn Waechter, Riley Vigue and Avery Vigue are extending the athletic legacies of their fathers. Alissa Vigue, Special to the Times
    Doug Waechter and former Rays minor-leaguer are passing their love of the game on to their daughters and their teammates
  5. Between the potential of historic pitching matchups, the emergence of Juan Soto and the heroics of Jose Altuve, this Washington-Houston World Series has more going for it than the Vegas odds might suggest. MATT SLOCUM | AP Photo MATT SLOCUM  |  AP
    The Astros are the heaviest favorites the World Series has seen since 2007. Still, there is reason to believe his Fall Classic has memorable moments ahead.
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston talks to reporters after an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. The Saints won 31-24. (AP Photo/Butch Dill) BUTCH DILL  |  AP
    Sports Day Tampa Bay: What’s next for the Bucs, Astros-National World Series preview, the Lightning’s short-circuit start
  7. Davey Martinez gained valuable experience as a coach behind Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay. But when Maddon exited, the Rays bypassed him for a "new voice," Kevin Cash. Tampa Bay Times
    After failing to land a half-dozen manager jobs, including with the Rays, Martinez and Nats ended up a good match.
  8. Jose Altuve prepares to be mobbed by his teammates at home plate as Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman leaves the field after giving up a walkoff two-run homer to the Astros second baseman in the ninth inning to win Game 6 of the AL Championship Series 6-4 on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019. The Astros win the series 4-2 and advance to the World Series to play the Washington Nationals. MATT SLOCUM  |  AP
    New York ties the ALCS Game 6 in the top of the ninth with a two-run HR before the diminutive second baseman wins it with a blast off Aroldis Chapman, putting Houston in the World Series.
  9. In 1968, slugger Frank Howard, known as the "Washington Monument," proved to be one of the few bright spots for the Washington Senators. AP
    The Nationals’ improbable postseason run rekindles memories of the woeful Washington Senators
  10. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash, on left, along with Erik Neander, center, senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, and Chaim Bloom, senior vice president of baseball operations, address the media during a press conference at Tropicana Field Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Rays Tales: Research now, action to come as Rays get caught up after playoff run. Plus, TV rating info and rumblings.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement