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.
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. Diego Castillo (63) kicks a ball around during spring training at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte last February. [TAILYR IRVINE  | TIMES  ]
    Games will be available on TV and streamed; 21 of the exhibitions will be carried on radio.
  2. Derek Jeter speaks during the Baseball Hall of Fame news conference on Wednesday Jan. 22, 2020, a day after joining Larry Walker as members of the 2020 Hall of Fame class. [BEBETO MATTHEWS  |  AP]
    The New York Yankees great and the Baseball Hall of Fame say they are both OK not knowing who the lone voter is that kept Jeter from being a unanimous selection.
  3. Commissioner Rob Manfred says it will be used during the Class A Florida State League season.
  4. Baseball America released its annual list on Wednesday. [Baseball America]
    Wander Franco is No. 1 again, and Brendan McKay No. 14 as Rays lead the way.
  5. Out of 397 ballots cast, only one did not elect Derek Jeter to the Hall of Fame. [DAVID SANTIAGO  |  TNS via ZUMA Wire]
    A unanimous selection was the only remaining question and Jeter falls one vote short.
  6. In this file photo, American League All-Star Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees acknowledges the crowd before his first at bat during the 85th MLB All-Star Game at Target Field on July 15, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
    John Romano | A clear majority of readers reacted harshly to my suggestion that Derek Jeter, while being an all-time great shortstop, might be a little overrated.
  7. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter laughs with teammates during Monday's game against the Rays at Tropicana Field. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times] [Tampa Bay Times]
    Derek Jeter and Scott Rolen joined the list, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are still there, Curt Schilling still isn’t
  8. He is a Yankee icon. One of baseball's greatest ambassadors. And soon, he will be a Hall of Famer. But did Jeter's reputation exceed his actual value on the field? [GENE J. PUSKAR  |  Associated Press]
    John Romano | The Yankees shortstop might join former teammate Mariano Rivera as the only unanimous Hall of Fame selections, but his defensive abilities left a lot to be desired.
  9. Former White Sox manager Tony La Russa stands with his Baseball Hall of Fame plaque while being honored before a game in Chicago on Aug.  30, 2014. [MATT MARTON  |  AP]
    "There was a toggle switch in the manager’s office and a camera zoomed in on the catcher,” Jack McDowell says of the setup he claims was installed by the Hall of Fame manager.
  10. In this 2007 file photo, Alyssa Nakken making the all-metro softball team at Woodland High School in Sacramento, Calif. [RENEE T. BONNAFON  |  ZUMAPRESS.com]
    Alyssa Nakken, 29, a former standout softball player at Sacramento State, will be in uniform for the big-league team, though not in the dugout during games.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement