Could the Rays be involved in a trade sending their former World Series enemy out of Philadelphia? (Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE)

Could the Rays Be Involved in a Cole Hamels or Matt Garza Trade?

The Rays have plenty of starting pitching. Yet getting into the discussions for pitchers in high demand as the trade deadline approaches such as Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, and Matt Garza could be a very beneficial move for the Rays.

In a deal for an elite pitcher on the trade market, there are going to be plenty of prospects involved. But the question is going to be whether the prospects the prospective acquiring teams have are the right prospects for the trading teams. When that isn’t the case, you may have something that a team that wouldn’t normally be involved in the trade talks may need, and that gives you two franchises to combine for the pieces needed to trade for one of these topflight starting pitchers. The Rays would love to be the facilitator under the right circumstances. I talked about this specifically with ex-Ray Matt Garza and catcher Geovany Soto back in February.

The conditions for the Rays to be involved in a trade like this are as follows:

1) A team involved in talks would have to possess a catcher or a player/prospect of some kind that the Rays feel would be the perfect fit for their organization

2A) A division rival for the Rays (i.e. Yankees or Orioles) would have to be on the verge of acquiring one of these topflight pitchers and a team who fits the first criteria would have to be involved in the talks and willing to up their offer to swoop in and acquire the pitcher themselves


2B) The potentially acquiring team is begging for the Rays to join the deal and the Rays see an opportunity to acquire the player in question for the first criteria at little cost

Andrew Friedman and the Rays would love to control all the dealings in baseball, but they’re not going to get involved in a trade like this unless it provides them with worthy benefit in the form of a needed player and an opportunity to prevent a key player from heading to a rival or the opportunity for a steal of a trade. I could see a trade like this happen if a team dangles a big league catcher or an upper-levels catching prospect and if the Phillies (Hamels), Cubs (Garza), or Brewers (Greinke) want upper-levels pitching prospects/big league starters in a trade (which the Rays have plenty of- Chris Archer, Alex Colome, Wade Davis) or shortstop prospects with upside (take Tim Beckham and Brandon Martin) and a prospective acquiring team doesn’t have them or doesn’t want to trade the ones they have.

What would a trade like this look like? One example that probably no longer applies at all is the example in the link above, which involves the Detroit Tigers. But let’s look at another such scenario now. A rumor has been that the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking to acquire Cole Hamels from the Phillies. The Pirates have taken their top two pitching prospects, Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon, off the table and don’t have any shortstop prospects of note (Alen Hanson plays there now but has no chance to stay there). The Pirates’ best offer to the Phillies given the conditions they have set for themselves would look something like this.

Philadelphia Phillies trade LHP Cole Hamels to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for OF Starling Marte, RHP Luis Heredia, RHP Kyle McPherson, 1B Alex Dickerson, and OF Robbie Grossman.

This package lacks luster. Marte is an excellent prospect but one who still needs a lot of work, Heredia has ridiculous upside but is a 17 year old at Short Season-A, McPherson has the ability to be only a solid starter and missed much of this season with shoulder inflammation, Dickerson is just a decent first base prospect, and Grossman doesn’t have any standout tools. Now watch what this deal turns into when the Rays enter.

Philadelphia Phillies trade LHP Cole Hamels to the Pittsburgh Pirates and RHP Brody Colvin and OF Kyrell Hudson to the Tampa Bay Rays. Pirates trade OF Starling Marte, RHP Luis Heredia, and 1B Alex Dickerson to the Philadelphia Phillies and C Tony Sanchez and RHP Zack Von Rosenberg to the Tampa Bay Rays. Tampa Bay Rays trade RHP Chris Archer and SS Tim Beckham to the Philadelphia Phillies and INF Sean Rodriguez to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Now the Phillies are getting a group of four high-upside guys in Marte, Archer, Beckham, and Heredia to go along with Dickerson, and Archer could be in the big leagues this season while Marte and Beckham should not be far behind. They have a chance to get four above-average big league players, including a superstar or two, to go along with a solid first baseman. They do give up a couple of risky players with upside in Colvin and Hudson, but they have plenty of those at pitcher and outfielder. The Pirates save themselves McPherson and Grossman and trade away Von Rosenberg, a pitcher who doesn’t exactly have the highest upside but still comes with risk, and the only player they would have any qualms parting with would be Sanchez. But if Tony Sanchez, currently the owner of a .254/.329/.384 line in 2012 was the only thing holding up the Pirates from getting Cole Hamels, they wouldn’t hesitate to trade him. They also get a player who could start at shortstop for them in Rodriguez from the Rays. The Rays, meanwhile, trade from a positions of strength and receive the upper-levels catching prospect they desperately need, two lower-levels pitching prospects to add to their pitching depth and who could flourish if the Rays can teach them changeups, the organizational specialty, and a high-upside outfielder, which the Rays can’t get enough of. The Rays don’t exactly give up nothing in this trade, but they don’t give up any players who they really need for the future and get a player who could play a big role in the future of the team in Sanchez to go along with three other noteworthy prospects. Especially if a division rival was looking to acquire Hamels and appeared to have a chance, the Rays would jump at the chance to be part of a deal like this.

Will the Rays be part of a trade for one of these high-profile pitchers? Right now it seems to be relatively unlikely. But if the right circumstances arrive and Andrew Friedman and the Rays see the right opportunity, they won’t be afraid to pull the trigger.

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Tags: Andrew Friedman Chris Archer Cole Hamels Matt Garza Philadelphia Phillies Pittsburgh Pirates Tim Beckham Zach Greinke

3 Comments on Could the Rays Be Involved in a Cole Hamels or Matt Garza Trade?

  1. Joe Komar says:

    Robbie Knopf, it is obvious that you have no idea what you’re talking about. For one Luis Heredia and some junk guys would be enough to headline a deal for Hamels. Starling Marte is about to get called up to fill one of two holes in the OF. Robbie Grossman is their #8 prospect. Kyle McPherson is their #6 prospect. So those two packaged for Hamels makes sense too. Now will you please look at your trade and tell me how giving up 4 of their top-10 prospects, including two in the top-5 for half a year of Hamels makes any sense what so ever and wouldn’t be one of the biggest overpays in MLB history? ???
    Let alone “just throw in” Tony Sanchez, the 4th overall pick in 2009. Get off the drugs and stop with these rediculous trade ideas that are completely biased towards your Rays. Why do you even care what your FO does? They do it the old and boring way because it works. And luckily they don’t have a moron like you running the team. I don’t usually go off but you are dumber than a doorknob Mr.Knopf

    • Robbie_Knopf says:

      Didn’t see this until just now. LOL. There would probably have to be a Hamels extension factored into the trade, but I really like the package I constructed for the straight Pirates-Phillies trade, with the Phillies getting a pair of great prospects (although both, especially Heredia, feature plenty of risk) but not Taillon or Cole to go along with some good but not elite prospects to fill out the deal, and the Pirates getting the true ace pitcher they have not possessed in an incredibly long time. This trade did not happen or come even close, but this package did seem to make sense for both sides. Was it perfect? Absolutely not. And what did I call it? The Pirates’ BEST OFFER for the Phillies.

      You’ve done enough ripping of me, but let’s talk about you right now. You’re quoting me based on the Baseball America Prospect Handbook. You tell me that Sanchez was their first round pick back in 2009. Do you know anything about these prospects? Do you understand how a prospect ranking isn’t the only thing to take into account when evaluating a prospect? They factor in both UPSIDE and PRESENT ABILITY, how safe a bit it is that the prospect is going to perform. Heredia is crazy talented, but he’s also very raw and there’s an extremely high chance he never makes the big leagues. Marte is talented but has no plate discipline right now and that severely handicaps him. The others the Pirates would give up in the straight trade have the ability to be solid players, but they’re nothing that the Pirates would regret trading. Just because McPherson and Grossman are ranked so high doesn’t mean they’re going to be superstars someday- and by the way, in a less top-heavy organization they would not have been ranked as highly. And Sanchez? He was a 4th overall pick once upon a time. What has he done since then? He has failed to hit and become just a decent defender. It doesn’t make a difference where you’re drafted three years after the fact- it matters how good a prospect you are. Sanchez is just a decent prospect at this point, nothing more. The Pirates are giving up a lot, sure, but they’re getting an incredible pitcher. Imagine how much better the Pirates would be if they had Hamels right now anchoring their rotation?

      How about this for an idea? Stop glossing over the rankings and learn something about these players. Start actually caring about your team instead of wasting your time ripping people whose opinions you don’t agree with.

  2. Joe Komar says:

    I’d take Shields off your hands for Heredia and Sanchez. But I’d be afraid to see what you’d ask for after how retarded your demand on a rental of Hamels was.

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