Two days ago, we heard about an interesting trade as the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim swapped demoted closers Jason Grilli and Ernesto Frieri. That deal will not affect the Tampa Bay Rays much if at all, but it does represent a framework for a deal that they could execute at the trade deadline. Both Grilli and Frieri are talented, but they were struggling and needed fresh starts. The Rays have one player who that is also true for: Logan Forsythe. Among the Rays’ trade chips, Forsythe is far down the list in terms of value. However, could the Rays trade him for another struggling backup who could use a new locale?
Logan Forsythe is playing a little better of late, hitting .391 in his last 23 plate appearances. But despite the brief hot streak, his line on the season stands at just .213/.257/.270 on the season, a disaster no matter how you slice it. Supposed to hit lefties extremely well, Forsythe has hit only marginally better against them, managing a .596 OPS compared to .526 overall. Not everything has been negative for Forsythe–he has played good defense–but he has still been a major disappointment for the Rays since being acquired from the San Diego Padres this offseason. Once considered a candidate to start at second base for the Rays in future seasons, Forsythe is now a non-tender possibility after this year as he enters his first time through arbitration. The Rays were supposed to be Forsythe’s change of scenery, but it has not worked out and it may be time to move on to another player. If the Rays do elect to trade him, there are a few interesting possibilities that they could target.
The highest the Rays could possibly aim for in exchange for Logan Forsythe would be a player like Johnny Giavotella of the Kansas City Royals. Originally a second round pick by the Royals in 2008, Giavotella made his major league debut in 2011 but still has not established himself in the major leagues, receiving just 461 scattered plate appearances the last four years. He hasn’t done well in his chances either, managing just a .235/.273/.305 line, but unsurprisingly he does have much better Triple-A numbers, hitting to a .313/.382/.447 line. At this point in his career, Giavotella is in danger of becoming a Quad-A player. However, he does deserve a chance with another organization before his fate is sealed, and the Rays are the type of team that would be interested.
The Rays may need to throw in a minor prospect along with Forsythe to make a trade offer for Giavotella reasonable, but their values really are not so far apart. Despite Giavotella being regarded as “young” in some circles while Forsythe is “washed up,” Forsythe is only six months older. Forsythe is also the only one of the two with a good major league season under his belt (2012). Giavotella has a little more upside–there is a better chance that he will hit right-handed pitching someday–but Forsythe’s additional experience and track record hitting lefties does make up some of the difference. At worst, Forsythe is Triple-A depth for the Royals, but it isn’t crazy to say that he can be a better bench option for them than a player like Pedro Ciriaco. For the Rays, they get a player with a little more potential than Forsythe, a player who they could give a chance to start at second base if they trade Ben Zobrist. Meanwhile for the Royals, they receive a possible bench upgrade and another piece to develop in exchange for a player who has done nothing for them the last four years.
A trade between the Rays and Royals involving Logan Forsythe and Johnny Giavotella may not happen, but there are quite a few mid-to-late 20’s bench players that the Rays could try to target in exchange for Forsythe. Alexi Amarista, Ryan Flaherty, and Chris Coghlan are three more names to throw out there (although an Amarista trade would send Forsythe back to the Padres), and the Rays could talk to several teams to try to get something for Forsythe. At the end of the day, Forsythe has a chance to rebound next season and be the player the Rays thought they were acquiring, so they won’t trade him for nothing at this point. However, if they see a player experiencing similar struggles who they believe is worth a chance, using Forsythe to acquire him could be a worthwhile move.