Typically, at the trade deadline, teams are set as either buyers or sellers. Very rarely does a team straddle the fence, both buying and selling. This year, the Rays may be one of those few teams that do both.
With the acquisition of Ryan Roberts, the Rays have shown a distinct willingness to address the holes on their roster as they determine how much of a chance they have in the playoff race. However, they have several pieces, notably James Shields and Wade Davis, who are considered extremely valuable on the trade market. It would not be inconceivable for the Rays to trade one, if not both, given the pitching depth in their system.
Presently, the Rays find themselves 2.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot, despite an offense that has been anemic at best. Moving either Shields or Davis would likely be able to give the Rays a piece or two to help the major league roster, and possibly a decent prospect. Of the two, Shields may be the more likely piece to be moved, as Davis is under team control through 2016.
Shields may also be the more attractive of the two pitchers for a team looking for a rental piece. Despite his struggles this season, Shields has a reputation as a big game pitcher, with plenty of experience in the playoffs. A younger team making a push for the playoffs would likely covet a player like this, especially one that may need pitching down the line.
Davis, meanwhile, is also drawing a lot of interest. In all likelihood, he would be enticing for the opposite type of teams, those looking to sell and build for the future. Davis could make a nice centerpiece in a trade to acquire a solid bat in the lineup, especially to a team looking to acquire a controllable young pitcher with a bit of a track record of success.
No one is quite sure as to what the Rays are looking to do at the trade deadline. In all likelihood, the Rays themselves may not know. However, it is not out of the question for the Rays to play both sides of the fence, getting pieces for the future while strengthening this year’s squad.