While most of this season has been a disappointment for the Tampa Bay Rays, they have changed course as of late. The Rays went 9-2 on their last road-trip and have won 11 of their last 15 games to climb 9 games back in the AL East. This might seem like a steep hill to climb, but with no team taking control of the AL East and the Rays on the upswing they still have a chance to be sitting on top of the division when it’s all said and done. With the MLB trade deadline coming up at the end of the month one might wonder if the Rays, who were considered to be major sellers just weeks ago with the worst record in baseball, could be buyers? Let’s take a look at why it might make sense.
If the Rays intend to keep David Price amidst all the trade rumors surrounding him, then it would appear to make some sense to add a piece to give the team the best possible chance to make it back to October. Now granted when we say the Rays will be buyers it won’t be because they’ll make a major splash on the trade market, but rather maybe add a player who can help the team in the stretch run and possibly in the future. The Rays have never made a major addition at the trade deadline and in year’s past have acquired players such as Chad Qualls and Ryan Roberts. Neither was a major addition but both played roles down the stretch. Last season the Rays acquired Jesse Crain, but he was unable to pitch at all due to an elbow injury. These are the types of role players the Rays usually target.
The Rays biggest need might be another middle of the order bat, but that might not need to be addressed with Wil Myers returning to the lineup when he recovers from his wrist injury. It would be tough finding playing time for another outfielder as well due to the recent emergence of Kevin Kiermaier and Brandon Guyer. David DeJesus also should be returning to the lineup fairly soon as well, so finding playing time for another outfielder would be extremely difficult. The Rays also appear to be set in the infield for this season and the near future with Evan Longoria, Yunel Escobar, Ben Zobrist, Logan Forsythe, James Loney and Sean Rodriguez all in the fold. The same goes for behind the plate with Ryan Hanigan and Jose Molina. The Rays rotation has been much better of late, and Jeremy Hellickson now back in the rotation there doesn’t appear to be a need there as well.
So that only leaves the bullpen. The Rays have several good high leverage relievers including Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, Brad Boxberger and Grant Balfour. But adding another strong reliever could help down the stretch. Brad Ziegler is an interesting option the Rays could look into. Ziegler has been one of the most effective relievers in baseball over the past few seasons and has a very deceptive sidearm delivery that has effectively gotten both right handed and left handed hitters out. He is also controllable through 2016 at a reasonable price.
Overall, the Tampa Bay Rays could be buyers at the trade deadline if they continue to play well and continue to make up ground on the rest of the AL East. The division still looks wide open and despite being 9 games out the Rays will have plenty of chance to get right back in the race. If the Rays decide to not trade David Price and believe they can get back to the playoffs this year, then it makes sense to try and upgrade the roster if the cost is minimal.