ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays talked right up to the final seconds before Tuesday’s 6 p.m. trade deadline about other possible additions they could make to their wild card-contending team.
But they ultimately decided, based on what was available and what it would cost, that they were better off sticking with what they have (after acquiring outfielders David Peralta and Jose Siri) and what they soon will have coming back from injury (both impact hitters and pitchers).
“We’re good,” baseball operations president Erik Neander said, “with where we are.”
Going into the deadline, the Rays were considered to be looking for a bat, a catcher and pitching help, both starting and relieving. Peralta gave them a veteran hitter for the rest of this season, and once they sensed Siri was available they saw him as a long-term piece and potential star.
But they stopped there. The only deal they made Tuesday was to send outfielder Brett Phillips, the Seminole native and fan favorite who was designated for assignment Monday to make room for Siri, to Baltimore for cash considerations.
There were options to do more, with talks that included at least the possibilities of acquiring Joey Gallo or Eric Hosmer, and trading Ji-Man Choi. Bat-first catcher Willson Contreras surprisingly ended up staying with the Cubs, and while the starter market was limited (”We didn’t find anything ... that made sense for us,” Neander said), more than a handful of experienced relievers changed teams.
But as the Rays weighed the short-term gain vs. the long-term fit and residual roster crunch and lack of flexibility, Neander said they felt strongly they were better off waiting on their own reinforcements. Front-line players such as Wander Franco, Manuel Margot and Harold Ramirez all are expected back before the end of the month.
“Nothing was too close,” Neander said. “Ran things out to the end (Tuesday), but ultimately feel we are OK where we are. One of the challenges — we’ve talked about it throughout — was we have players returning. ...
“These games matter, too. You can’t (say), ‘Oh, we’ll wait for them to come back.’ But they do eventually come back, and how do you make it all fit? So those were considerations that had us just kind of trying to think really creatively about different possibilities.”
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Catcher Francisco Mejia is set to return this weekend. And there is pitching coming, too, with reliever Matt Wisler sooner and JT Chargois and Nick Anderson (elbow) potentially not much later. Also working back are Yonny Chirinos, Brendan McKay and, eventually, Josh Fleming.
Plus, there is the tantalizing, and potentially game-changing, possibility of starter Tyler Glasnow returning from Tommy John surgery sometime in September. While the Rays have tried to temper expectations about a Glasnow return this season, Neander raved about his bullpen sessions and said he “wouldn’t rule it out.”
The Rays did get their first look Tuesday at Siri, who started in centerfield, batted fifth and showed some of his impressive tools. Rays players seemed both excited by the chance to add Siri but also sad to be losing Phillips, who provided a constant stream of energy and positivity in their clubhouse and dugout.
“It’s going to be a presence that’s definitely missed,” veteran second baseman Brandon Lowe said. “You can’t say enough about Brett, first of all just as a person. If you needed anything, he’d be one of the first guys there to offer his help.
“He’s definitely going to be missed around here. But I pray that everything kind of works out for him. ... Every guy in this clubhouse is rooting for him.”
Several teams, including the Yankees, were interested in Phillips. With Baltimore, Phillips will get to reunite with former Seminole High teammate Joey Krehbiel, an Orioles reliever. Had the Rays not traded Phillips by 6 p.m. Tuesday, he would have been placed on waivers, subject to a claim by teams in reverse order of record. Had he cleared, he would have been sent to the Rays’ Triple-A team in Durham.
“If you don’t make those decisions there, it’s out of your control,” Neander said. “Placing him in a spot where (it) might be the best opportunity is — you don’t want to do it at your competitive expense — but I think he landed in the right spot, and we provided the best opportunity for him from what we could understand.
“Wouldn’t mind it being a little further away, but that’s what it is. So, happy for him that opportunity was there and wish him nothing but the best. And like we said (Monday), just greatly appreciate all that he’s meant to the organization and to our community and our fans.”
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