Rays News

RCG Mailbag: Have Tampa Bay Rays Improved Their Future This Offseason?

By Robbie Knopf
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Sep 23, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Joel Peralta (62) pitches during the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

11/20/14: Tampa Bay Rays trade RHP Joel Peralta and LHP Adam Liberatore to the Los Angeles Dodgers for RHPs Jose Dominguez and Greg Harris

Would Peralta make the Rays’ roster out of spring training if they hadn’t dealt him in this trade? Yes, he probably would. Even with Jake McGee set to miss the beginning of the year after arthroscopic elbow surgery, the Rays have Brad Boxberger, Kevin Jepsen, Grant Balfour, Jeff Beliveau, and Ernesto Frieri set to fill five of the seven spots.

From there, the Rays need a short reliever and a long one, with Peralta likely filling the former role. However, Peralta is set to make $2.5 million and pitched poorly last season–is he truly better than Kirby Yates and Dominguez? Even if he is, what would the Rays do when McGee came back? It’s not like Peralta can be a long reliever!

Of course, the preceding paragraph may be too narrow of a look at the situation. McGee won’t be back until May, and by that point, the Rays may suffer an injury or a guy like Balfour or Frieri may pitch himself out of a spot.

As we saw last season when Balfour and Peralta were disappointing, we can’t take the performance of relievers for granted. There is a real chance that Peralta will pitch better next season and the Rays will wish that they had him over someone else.

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However, if any of the Rays’ remaining options falter, they have so many talented pitchers they can resort to. Beyond Yates and Dominguez, they have Burch Smith, C.J. Riefenhauser, Steve Geltz, and Brandon Gomes. They may even decide to move a Durham starting pitcher like Mike Montgomery or Enny Romero to relief. The Rays’ bullpen should be fine even without Peralta–overall, the main thing his loss does is save them $2 million compared to the league minimum.

It is hard to say that the Rays truly lost something by giving up Joel Peralta, and we can say for sure that Liberatore meant nothing to their 2015 effort. Jeff Beliveau is the top lefty specialist on their depth chart, and beyond him, Riefenhauser, Montgomery, and Romero could all fill the role. Had the Rays not traded Liberatore, he likely would have been exposed to the Rule 5 Draft and been lost.

In terms of the other side of the trade, we already briefly discussed Dominguez, who is a very interesting pitcher for the Rays. His fastball touches triple digits to go along with a solid slider, and he could be major part of the Rays’ bullpen for years to come. Harris, meanwhile, is a solid starting pitching prospect who will head to High-A next season.

Overall in this deal, the Rays are slightly ahead for their 2015 team between the exchange of Peralta and Dominguez and the $2 million they save. For the future, meanwhile, Dominguez’s team control and whatever Harris provides make things look a little brighter.