The Market for Jesse Crain

By David Hill

Jun 17, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Jesse Crain (26) pitches against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

If there is one thing that the Tampa Bay Rays appreciate, it is a potentially undervalued asset. As such, when they were able to acquire Jesse Crain for what was thought to be a low price, it made sense for the Rays to jump at the chance. It did not matter that Crain was on the disabled list at the time; he was in the midst of an All-Star season and was expected to be back shortly.

Instead of solidifying the bullpen as Crain was expected to, he never threw a pitch for the Rays last season. To make matters worse, the Rays sent Sean Bierman and Ben Kline to Chicago to complete the trade. While neither player may be anything special, Bierman has the potential to turn into a major league players. In the end, that turned out to be a steep price to pay for absolutely nothing.

However, if the Rays are able to resign Crain, then the trade would look much better. Having had Crain in their clubhouse and around the team, even if on the peripheral, would seemingly have given the Rays the chance to retain his services. Coming off a shoulder injury, it is even possible that the Rays could get Crain at a discounted rate. After all, how many teams would be willing to take a chance on a reliever who missed the last three months of the season with a shoulder injury?

Yet, the market for Crain’s services may not just be the Rays. Already, there are reports that the Colorado Rockies could have interest in bringing Crain to Denver, as long as his shoulder does not appear to have any problems during an exam. Other teams looking for a possibly low cost option in the bullpen, or a team looking to find a potential closer at minimal cost. Teams like the Pirates and Astros had reasonable success in signing former setup men to close for them last season, so Crain could potentially get a look as a closer on a cost conscious team. In fact, with the Rays potentially in need of a closer themselves, they may look to resign Crain for that role, should they not feel that any of their present options are suited for the role.

The market for Jesse Crain is beginning to take shape. Even though he is coming off of an injury the ruined his season, the potential reward at a relatively low cost is likely to have other teams interested in acquiring his services. The trade for Crain was already an exercise in futility; losing him in free agency would make the trade even worse.