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

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Sep 16, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Wil Myers (9) hits a 2-RBI sacrifice hit during the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

12/19/14: Tampa Bay Rays trade OF Wil Myers, C Rene Rivera, LHP Jose Castillo, and RHP Gerardo Reyes to the San Diego Padres for C Rene Rivera, RHP Burch Smith, and 1B Jake Bauers. San Diego also sends RHP Tyson Ross and SS Trea Turner to the Washington Nationals, with Washington trading OF Steven Souza and LHP Travis Ott to Tampa Bay.

We can call this two trades if you like, but let’s leave the discussion of Ross and Turner for another time and just evaluate who the Rays gave up and what they received.

Wil Myers was once a very good prospect and won the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year. He has unbelievable raw power and we keep hearing about the different sound the ball makes off his bat. Yet despite all of that, the Rays were willing to trade him. There’s something wrong with that picture, and the clear conclusion is that the Rays think Myers is fatally flawed.

Myers has struggled mightily with breaking pitches in his big league career and showed no signs of adjusting to them in 2014. Considering that pitchers know how to beat him and both his defense and baserunning are nothing special, his career is in serious jeopardy. There is a chance that the Rays are wrong, but they are certainly trading him for a reason.

We can also say that they like Souza just as much if not more and they even got additional prospects in exchange for Myers. There’s risk involved for the Rays here, both in terms of whether Myers recovers and whether Souza meets expectations, but they like their end of the deal.

The low-level prospect exchange (Castillo and Reyes for Bauers and Ott) is basically a wash, and the Rays will probably win the Rivera for Hanigan swap. Hanigan is a safer bet, but Rivera is just as good of a defender, has more offensive upside, is cheaper, and has shown more durability. There is a chance he doesn’t hit at all, but he is unlikely to hit much worse than Hanigan and the Rays have no issues taking that risk.

This is the most difficult deal of all to assess, so we probably need to say “too early to tell.” If we trust the Rays and say that the fact that Myers was available demonstrates that something is wrong, though, then we can say something.

If we declare that Myers for Souza is about even, then the Rays gain something for the future with Smith and also upgrade their catcher spot. That would mean that the Rays would gain a little bit for 2015 and beyond, but we can’t be too sure about that prediction.

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