We have all heard about the Tampa Bay Rays wanting to quickly move David Price, but a player who is even more likely to be traded is Juan Carlos Oviedo. Just one of two Rays that are scheduled to be free agents after the year (the other is Erik Bedard), the Rays will trade Oviedo if they get anything of value in return. So here’s a look at how Oviedo’s trade market could play out.
Oviedo can be a late-innings arm for a team down the stretch, and that is something that is generally a hot commodity on the trade market. After not pitching in 2012 and 2013 thanks to a combination of a suspension for falsifying his identity and Tommy John surgery, Oviedo has become another classic Rays reclamation project. He has posted a 2.33 ERA thus far, the best of his career by a good margin, and has only allowed 18 hits in 27.0 innings pitched. Needless to say, Oviedo is a player a quite a few teams could use. Given the fact that he is just going to be a rental reliever, he isn’t going to bring a huge return. But, the Rays should be able to get an intriguing player of value in an Oviedo deal.
So which teams would be interested in Oviedo? Among contenders that have a major bullpen need are the Toronto Blue Jays (27th in the league in bullpen ERA), the Los Angeles Angels (26th), and the New York Yankees (23rd). That being said, Oviedo being traded to a team with a specific bullpen need isn’t a given. Most teams have a weak link in the bullpen, and a good, cheap way to upgrade their team is to replace that weak link. Even if that team is best in the league in bullpen ERA, they could still choose to upgrade their bullpen. Because of that, there will be many teams interested in Oviedo, which is good news for the Rays. The bad news for the Rays is that many relievers are always on the move at the trade deadline. Regardless, the Rays won’t have an issue finding a contender that could use Oviedo in the bullpen. Also given the fact that he is a free agent after the year, the Rays wouldn’t have a problem dealing him within the division if that means they get the biggest return.
The Rays have been working hard with Oviedo ever since signing him to a minor league deal prior to the 2013 season as he was recovering from Tommy John. All of the hard work hasn’t worked out exactly as they planned, as the Rays were hoping Oviedo would be the 7th or 8th inning guy for a team that was looking to win the World Series. But given their current circumstances, they won’t complain about being able to flip Oviedo for a prospect. Once again, the Rays have been successful in reclaiming a player- this time it is just going to pay off a little bit differently.