ST. PETERSBURG — With Friday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline nearing, the Rays are in lots of talks and being mentioned in quite a few rumors.
Most intriguing to read, though least likely to happen, are reports that they’re interested in Nationals ace Max Scherzer and Cubs third baseman/leftfielder Kris Bryant.
Both are free-agents-to-be who are due significant money — Scherzer $11.8 million (albeit deferred) and Bryant around $6 million — and are likely to be the subject of bidding wars the Rays are unlikely to win. Scherzer also has the right to veto or approve any trade, and several reports Tuesday said he would prefer to be traded to a West Coast team.
The Rays would seem to be most interested in adding a starter, and another reported target is Texas’ Kyle Gibson, though that also seems unlikely. Another deadline option for the Rays would be to trade Kevin Kiermaier, who is owed $3.8 million this year and at least another $14.5 million going forward.
The Rays’ strategy is to “be in” on every player and not say much. What is manager Kevin Cash hearing? Or at least admitting he is hearing? “Nothing,” he said. “I’m sure they are working very hard and talking to everybody.”
Medical matters: Archer, Anderson, Thompson
Chris Archer (forearm) continued to move toward a return to the majors with a fourth strong rehab outing, allowing one hit over 3 2/3 innings Tuesday for Triple-A Durham. He walked one, struck out four, threw 35 of 59 pitches for strikes. … Reliever Nick Anderson, out since spring with an elbow sprain, will move his rehab to Durham after a second solid outing with the Florida Complex League team Monday, with the potential for a mid-August return. ... Reliever Ryan Thompson, sidelined since late June due to shoulder inflammation, “is finally making some good strides,” Cash said, but provided no specifics. Oliver Drake is still slowed by the back/neck issue that halted his return from a flexor strain. … Cash said there were no updates on recently sidelined relievers J.P. Feyereisen (shoulder) or Collin McHugh (arm fatigue), or top starter Tyler Glasnow (elbow sprain), who continues playing catch. … Lefty Brendan McKay, working his way back from 2020 shoulder surgery, is pitching again for the FCL team after a month-long setback due to scar tissue, but Cash said he “is still a very long way away.”
Draft class complete
The Rays went above the $581,600 slot value to land third-round pick Ryan Spikes, a shortstop from the Atlanta area with a Tennessee college offer, then announced the signings of eighth-round left-hander Patrick Wicklander and 16th-round righty Ian Leather to complete the signings of all 21 selections.
“Very cool day,” said Spikes, 18. “Coming out to the Trop, signing, going into professional baseball out of high school, it’s really kind of fun. It’s been a good ride. Pretty nerve-wracking, exciting, all the above. Words really can’t describe it, honestly.”
He said the decision to sign came down to a feeling on how he could “get to my all-time goal the quickest.” The majors? “Hall of Fame,” Spikes said. “It’s big shoes to fill, big responsibilities, a lot of hard work getting put in behind that, but I’m all up for the challenge. Shoot high.”
⋅ Nelson Cruz was excited for his home debut at the Trop, remembering a massive homer he hit in 2017 with Seattle, initially announced at 482 feet but revised via Statcast to 469. The team is excited to have him, with a Cruz T-shirt giveaway Friday and a Sunday $23 ticket special tied to his number.
⋅ The Yankees reinstated outfielder Aaron Judge and catcher Kyle Higashioka from the COVID-19-related injured list and activated newly acquired reliever Clay Holmes.
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