There has been some wild speculation lately involving the Tampa Bay Rays, and the likelihood of us making a trade before the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline of the 31st of July or what is going to turn out to be the actual trade deadline in 2010, which is August 31st.
Almost every viable trade target has been rumored to the Rays at some point and by some media publication. I will take a look at the potential trade targets on our end, as well as the players that we might be willing to move in a deal.
Not Getting Traded, Sorry Rays Fans
There has been a lot of talk about the Rays moving CF BJ Upton. It’s just not happening Rays fans. The Rays view BJ as too valuable in CF and are generally not in the business of trading players when there is value is low, which right now, BJ’s is. Even though BJ ranks near the bottom of the league in UZR and +/- ratings by Bill James, the Rays tend to use not only widely accepted sabermetric values to assess their players, but some of their own rankings as well. I’d imagine that although interest in BJ remains high throughout the league, much to the chagrin of many Rays fans, he will not be dealt.
Two Most Likely Targets
If I had to put my finger on the two guys who aren’t MR’s (we will deal for one of those) the Rays likely have the most interest in, they would be Jayson Werth and Prince Fielder. I know Prince would seem like a long shot, and mildly illogical, he fits the Rays window. He will be eligible for arbitration for one more year, and while his arbitration number will be in the 10 million range more than likely, with the 10.125 million dollar contract of Carlos Pena, the 10 million dollar contract of Carl Crawford, the 7.5 million dollar contract of Rafael Soriano, the 4 million dollar club option on Dan Wheeler and a few other contracts set to come off the books, Prince’s high salary would still fit into the Rays short term plans.
As far as how his bat would fit into the lineup, I think it would go without saying. The Rays are a middle of the order power hitting team (14th in HR, 15th in SLG). We have 2 players with over an .800 OPS that qualify for statistical consideration in Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford. Prince would immediately lead the team in SLG, OPS and HR, and would be a potent addition to the middle of the lineup.
The only problem with Prince in my mind, is he perpetuates the problem that the Rays have against LHP. He is even farther below the Rays already below average splits against LHP.
Isn’t this somewhat intriguing though…
RF Ben Zobrist
LF Carl Crawford
3b Evan Longoria
DH Prince Fielder
1b Carlos Pena
SS Jason Bartlett
2b Reid Brignac
CF BJ Upton/Matt Joyce
C Kelley Shoppach
The other potential trade target, and this rumor refuses to go away, is for LF Jayson Werth of the Philadelphia Phillies. I thought Werth would put up huge numbers this season with his impending FA status this offseason, but his his splits are more than mildly disturbing. He has seen a regression in OPS that is catastrophic in nature for every month the season has progressed.
Nonetheless, Werth is a career +.850 OPS guy in his 4 full seasons in Philadelphia.
My biggest question with Werth is, why would we pick up another OF that we are unlikely to sign in the offseason. We already have a glut of impending FA’s, and Werth, even coming off of an average year, is only 31 years old and in the prime of his career. Someone is going to have to overpay for him. The Rays are never really going to be in position to trade for a rental without it severely damaging the long term outlook to the team, and I just don’t see Werth as that big of an upgrade in the OF or the power department to justify giving up Wade Davis (who the Phils undoubtedly want).
Possible Trade Bait
While there has been a lot of interest in other clubs in both Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez, the Rays more than likely won’t be moving those players either. The one player on the MLB roster who I could see the Rays dangling as bait for a big bat would be Wade Davis.
Davis has shown some flashes of brilliance this year, but is still wildly inconsistent. He is still struggling with his command, and not striking out enough pitchers. With SP Jeremy Hellickson dominating AAA, the Rays could view him as a seamless replacement for Davis.
Davis is still seen as a possible top end of the rotation starter by many teams throughout the league, and would be a great addition for young teams looking to add some pitching depth.