With just about 24 hours until the trade deadline, it is still difficult to figure out what direction the Rays may go in terms of trades. While they are close enough to be in contention for the Wild Card, their offense has been practically non-existent. The fact that they are in contention is due, in large part, to the dominance of their pitching staff, which ranks second in ERA and third in overall runs given up.
Given the depth of their pitching staff, it would be easy to formulate trade possibilities that could land a solid bat or two to upgrade a lineup that ranks last in batting average and thirteenth in on-base percentage and slugging. However, at least one member of the Rays does not anticipate any changes. According to Joe Maddon “I would bet that nothing really happens.”
Despite catching, first base, and shortstop being positions of weakness on the Rays, they do have reinforcements on the way for the rest of their roster. Evan Longoria is progressing with his rehab assignment, and made his third start for AAA Durham last night. Luke Scott, after a brutal 0-41 slump, had started to regain his batting stroke before getting injured and being placed on the disabled list on July 21st. Scott is expected to have a brief rehab stint, and expects to be activated when he is eligible in early August. Even the pitching staff is looking to gain strength, as Jeff Niemann threw a 50 pitch bullpen session on Friday without any problems.
Will these reinforcements be enough to sufficient to catapult the Rays into the playoffs? If they can hang around the teams contending for a playoff berth, they could make it interesting come mid-August into September.