The Los Angeles Angels recently got word that left-handed reliever Sean Burnett will miss the rest of the season to an elbow injury. With his injury, the Angels now have a significant hole in their bullpen, as they only have one lefty reliever in Wade LeBlanc, who also provides starting depth. Thus, the Angels seem likely to explore the trade market to add a left-hander. The Rays have a plethora of lefties at the top of their organization, including Jake McGee and Cesar Ramos in the big leagues and Mike Montgomery, C.J. Riefenhauser, Jeff Beliveau, and Adam Liberatore at Triple-A. Could the Tampa Bay Rays trade one of them to the Angels?
McGee is extremely unlikely to be dealt unless the Rays had their socks blown off by a deal, which is not going to happen. Thus, Ramos becomes the most logical trade candidate that has significant MLB experience. Ramos filled in decently in the Rays rotation this year, but a tough final start and a couple of tough recent relief appearances have inflated his ERA to 4.50. Regardless, he is a nice piece capable of providing multiple innings out of the bullpen, the ability to spot start, and decent performance, as evidenced by his 4.10 career ERA. He isn’t likely to bring a huge return in a trade, but the Rays have so many quality options in Triple-A that they should be willing to part with him if they got a decent low-to-mid level prospect in return. A player that could interest the Rays is Angels Triple-A catcher Luis Martinez, who is likely a better option than Rays current backup Ali Solis.
If the Rays don’t want to part with Ramos or can’t get enough in return, their more controllable pitchers in Triple-A could become trade candidates. Montgomery has pitched well in Triple-A this year as a starter, and he is ready for a MLB role in relief. He could fill a role similar to Ramos, but he is under big league control through at least 2020 and has more upside. Overall, he would likely bring back a better return than Ramos because of those factors, but not by much because he hasn’t proven himself in the big leagues, and he has struggled in the past couple of minor league seasons.
Riefenhauser comes with setup man potential, and he would likely bring back more than any of the above names because he has the most upside. Also, he too is controllable through at least 2020. With that though, the Rays are also less likely to deal him, because if they held onto him for another year or two and Riefenhauser indeed established himself as an 8th inning option, then his value would be much higher. But, if the Angels really felt desperate for a lefty that also comes with upside, they could likely get the Rays to part with Riefenhauser for a solid mid-upper level prospect.
Beliveau has dominated at Triple-A this year, giving up no runs in 21.2 innings and also throwing 2.0 scoreless innings at the big league level. However, he has less potential than Riefenhauser and Montgomery as a 27-year old. The Rays should be willing to deal him, and while they might not get a huge return, they could get a lower level prospect with value. Not bad for a guy who they acquired via waivers and who will probably never be a permanent fix in the Rays bullpen.
Liberatore is little talked about, but since being drafted in the 21st round in 2010 he has put up a 2.88 ERA in the minors. He is probably just a lefty specialist in the big leagues thanks to underwhelming stuff, but it is hard to argue with the performance he has put up in the minors. The Rays would be more than willing to part with him if they can get something of value in return, as he is not likely to see big league time with the Rays any time soon. That being said, he is also probably the least desirable option from the Angels perspective.
Overall, the Tampa Bay Rays have a surplus of controllable left-handed relief, and thus they could deal from that surplus if they can get a more useful piece in return. If they did decide to deal one of their left-handers, I’d say Ramos or Beliveau would be most likely. That being said, any of their lefties other than McGee would be fair game on the trade market. The Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays seem to fit together for a trade, we will just have to see if anything can come to fruition in the next few weeks.