Tampabay.com’s Joe Smith wrote an article a couple days ago about Andrew Friedman’s hesitation to trade starting pitching. Friedman said he “wouldn’t count on” the Rays trading their starting pitching depth. Why wouldn’t Friedman trade starting pitching? By my count the Rays have seven Major League ready starters plus Alex Torres, who is very close to ready.
I can understand being unwilling to trade James Shields, since he is the ace of the staff and a great veteran for the clubhouse. But I could definitely see trading Jeff Niemann and/or Wade Davis. The rotation would be better with Alex Cobb and Matt Moore in those last two spots. I think both of those two I mentioned could return some good value that would help fill some holes.
Now, maybe Friedman is thinking a little different. Maybe he wants to look into other options that does not involve trading, like moving Davis to the bullpen to open up a spot. That would be a viable option considering how well Davis did out of the bullpen down the stretch. He could be a good middle reliever next year and could be easily groomed into the closer after Kyle Farnsworth leaves after 2012.
In my mind, the Rays need to do something with one of the seven starters. Whether it be a trade or moving somebody to the bullpen, something needs to happen. Six starters is more manageable to take down to the final five. The Rays have a chance to have one of the better starting pitching staffs in baseball next season, and it all starts this offseason.