Jun 20, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher David Price (14) throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field. Houston Astros defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Rays Trade Deadline Preview

The July 31st deadline for Major League Baseball teams to make trades without first passing players through waivers is fast approaching. With that, the Tampa Bay Rays will have their fair share of rumors, and they also will likely be making a deal or two over the next few weeks. Unfortunately, the Rays are in the cellar of the AL East, and that means they are more likely to trade away big league players than acquire them. Without further ado, here’s a preview of how things could shape up for the Rays heading into this.

Who could be on the move?

As we have all heard, David Price seems the most likely Ray to be traded. His salary will increase once again next year, and he is set to be a free agent after the 2015 season. His value is higher right now than if the Rays waited until the offseason to trade him, as the acquiring team will be able to make two postseason runs with him. Of course, a Price trade seemed to be a given last offseason, but the Rays never go the offer that they wanted. The same could occur this year, and the Rays could end up waiting until the offseason to deal him. Another big name that the Rays could look to deal is Ben Zobrist. He is a free agent after the 2015 year, meaning his value on the trade market is also at its peak. He will have a big market given his versatility, but the problem is there aren’t many teams that value Zobrist as much as the Rays. I say the chances of him being dealt are less than 50%, though that may not be popular opinion.

Other than Price, the most likely trade candidate seems to be Juan Carlos Oviedo. A free agent after this season, he has dominated in relief this season and would bring a decent piece in return. The Rays will also shop some of their outfielders. Thanks to the emergence of Kevin Kiermaier and Brandon Guyer, as well as Mikie Mahtook at Triple-A, the Rays can deal from the outfield ranks and not lose much production. Matt Joyce seems the most likely candidate, as he is a free agent after 2015. Desmond Jennings is also a possibility, as he is entering arbitration next year and will be much more expensive than Kiermaier. David DeJesus is a long shot to be traded, as he is currently hurt and might not be able to prove himself healthy before the deadline. He is probably a more realistic trade candidate in the offseason. One of the three could very well be traded, and there is a possibility we could see two of them dealt.

There are other candidates that are more or less candidates to be traded. Sean Rodriguez is a free agent after 2015, and the Rays could move him if they get a good offer. With Curt Casali and Luke Maile both producing in the minors this year, a catcher may become expendable (including Maile and Casali themselves). Especially if the Rays could find anyone to take on Jose Molina, they’d likely have no problem trading him. The Rays also have a plethora of relievers, so they could deal a big league guy like Cesar Ramos or Joel Peralta, or a Triple-A guy like Jeff Beliveau or Adam Liberatore in the right deal. With Yunel Escobar inked long-term, shortstop prospect Hak-Ju Lee could also be a trade chip.

What are the Rays biggest needs?

Given their losing ways, as well as the fact that their big league roster is pretty much set for 2015, it seems likely that the Rays will only target prospects this year. They are likely to go after pitching in any deal, especially one involving Price and Zobrist. The Rays system currently has some intriguing pitching prospects, but it lacks the marquee starting prospect that the Rays usually have. That could very well change at the deadline. Their backup infielders (namely Logan Forsythe) haven’t been great this year, so the Rays could also target a close to the big leagues infield prospect. Most likely, however, the Rays will simply take the deals that give them the best overall young talent and worry about a logjam at specific positions later.

Despite all of this, don’t expect the Rays to have a fire sale. The Rays believe they still have a team that can win in 2015, and they aren’t about to trade that away. More than likely, we will see some deals that the Rays would make even if they were winning. The only difference is that the Rays will deal them at the deadline rather than waiting until the offseason. All-in-all, it figures to be an interesting deadline for the Rays- let’s just hope that they can come out of it as a better organization.

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Tags: Ben Zobrist David Price Tampa Bay Rays

  • George from Tarpon

    No Logan Forsythe hasnt been “great”. He hasnt been “good” either. “Allright”…nope. “Fair”….uh-uh. “Average”…are ya kidding. “Terrible” ?—-Yes thats the word we were looking for.

    • PeterComer

      I knew that guy was trash from the day we got him. My cousin in Oceanside CA. described Forsythe as always hurt, a choke artist, a hitting into double play machine and a guy given the proper playing time that would lead the league in runners left in scoring position. In general he was described as a steaming pile of ****.

  • PeterComer

    I do not agree with Drew Jenkins. In fact he really has not done his homework or paid attention to what the Rays need. The Rays need speed speed and more speed and at as many positions as possible and some home run power to go along with that. It is what got the Rays to the World Series. Speed unnerves opposing pitchers and gives the guys who are at the plate better pitches to see. The Rays need no fewer than 4 players in the lineup everyday that have good to great base stealing potential. It is why a cheap and fast Hak Ju Lee with VERY good upside makes more sense then a much slower and expensive Escobar. Guys like Zoberist, Dejesus, Joyce and Escobar need to go and their positions need to be filled with speed. We already have Logoria, Myers, Hannigan and Loney who have no speed and you need speed around them to help them see better pitches. Also the Rays do have good up and coming pitching prospects in Alex Colome who had a better ERA in Durham last year than Chris Archer or Jake Odorizzi and who I personally see as a potential star. They have Enny Romero (A lefty who throws in the high 90′s) and Nathan Karns (From the Nationals in the Loboton trade) who should be ready by September call ups next year. A fire sale is exactly what the Rays need and what the fans want. We want excitement at the games not 4 hour scoreless games which is being provided now by these long in the tooth guys that need to be dealt. Get us Billy Hamilton in a Price deal with Robert Stephenson and give the Reds Price and Zoberist. This is just an example of what the Rays really need. So wake up Jenkins and pay attention to the guys who buy the tickets..

    • Drew Jenkins

      I’m sorry you disagree. First off, speed isn’t everything. Yes it is nice to have it, but it isn’t the most important thing. Hak-Ju Lee is hitting in the low .200′s in Triple-A. Yes he is fast, but absolutely no reason he should be playing over Escobar. Yes he has upside. But upside doesn’t necessarily equal results, and Lee has to put up results at Triple-A before he is big league ready. As a whole ould the Rays deal to acquire some speed? Yes, but not if it leads to decreased offensive and/or defensive ability.

      To your point about the pitching prospects. Yes the Rays have some nice guys at Triple-A, but none are the type of marquee prospect we are used to (Like Matt Moore, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson, etc. have been in the past). Of the guys you mentioned (Karns, Colome, and Romero), they are not that guy. All three have command issues and could end up in the bullpen. Even if they don’t, none of them are going to be a number 1 pitcher, and probably not even a number 2 pitcher.

      Lastly, you could want a fire sale, I could want a fire sale, and every Rays fan in the world could want a fire sale, but it isn’t going to happen. It isn’t in line with the Rays way of thinking. This is a team that had the chance to win, but has had some poor performance compounded with bad luck. The team still has the potential to be very good- and the front office recognizes it. That’s why they aren’t going to sell everyone.

      • PeterComer

        Speed is exactly the #1 thing the Rays lack. When we went to the World Series we had Crawford, Upton, Bartlet and Akie who could all be disruptive on the base paths. We won several games that year with no better of an offense than we have now yet we could manufacture runs and win games with speed when the bats were off. Speed allowed players like Floyd, Pena and Longoria to see better pitches and it was a much more exciting game to watch for the fans who buy the way pay hard earned money for these games.
        You speak of decreased offensive numbers and my answer is “WHAT are you watching”?offensive numbers are near impossible to be any lower than they are now. Hak Ju Lee is coming off one year out of baseball due to injury and was knocking the cover off the ball in Spring training last year before he was hurt in Durham. Myself and most every Rays fan I speak with at work will gladly pay this year to see Lee and a few others like Colome develop at the major league level but I won’t even watch a game as things stand now. Too long, too boring, too much trash being run our there parading as ball players and no upside. People will pay for upside and excitement not for no offense and 4 hour games.
        The money you save on your Zoberist, Escobar, Molina, Joyce and Dejesus at least something can be put toward signing one of these guys defecting out of Cuba and you give up nothing in terms of players for getting him. Tomas a hard hitting player from Cuba just defected and we sure could use him. Seems Puig, Abreu and Cespedes have worked out more than just Ok for their teams. Surround Longoria, Myers, Loney, Hannigan and Tomas with speed and you now have power and speed and an exciting brand of baseball to watch that will be super upgrade.
        Also I believe what I see and not what someone tells me. Alex Colome can be a front of the rotation guy. He posted better numbers at Durham last year than Odorizi or Archer. His fastball is equal to or better than Archer’s and it has good movement and he pitches with attitude. I had the package to see the MILB games so I believe what my eyes have seen. You read his control is bad or heard it but it is not that bad and with his electric stuff can be corrected. His one bad start at Durham last week is just that 1 bad game. Same as Cobb had the other night. Cobb and Moore are your #1 and #2 right now anyway. Add Colome, Archer and Odorizzi and get some good prospects back for guys you deal and further develop Romero, Karns and Guerrieri and we are more than Ok but a big infusion of speed is needed too. A David Price, Ben Zoberist type package for say a Billy Hamilton and Robert Stephenson of the Reds is the type of deal we need.
        If we do not have have MAJOR changes and shift directions fans will simply go to the beach, go to Amusement parks or the casino, go fishing or find tens of other things we can do here in this great community.

      • Lexi Ronson

        Drew, you were a lot nicer to this guy than I’d have been. Well played sir. Well played. Please don’t think all your readers think you are wrong in that “speed” should be a determining factor.

        To the other guy “Pete”. Pete, put a stop watch on Rickey Henderson’s stolen bases. Pitchers weren’t doing 1.2 seconds to home back then. That’s what they do now. It’s easy to steal on a guy throwing 85 with a 1.5 sec to the plate. It’s tough now. Pitchers have made adjustments. We have seen speed. His name was Sam Fuld. He was fun, but wasn’t very good.