The Rays were quiet in December despite many trade rumors. Most expect the Rays to move pitching, but it seems the returns haven’t matched expectations, so far.
With the month of December fairly complete, we thought it was a good time to review what has happened so far, and what we can expect in January. We’ve said goodbye to many players, we’ve welcomed others into the fold, and we continue to wonder about future deals.
The Rays re-signed Jhan Marinez and he will provide some much needed pen depth as he competes for a spot on the roster this spring. The 27 year old was extremely impressive in 2015, managing a 1.92 ERA and 1.10 Whip over 61 IP. He only allowed 43 hits, 24 walks, and struck out 65.
The second-most significant trade the Rays have made this offseason, they acquired Hank Conger who will hopefully provide some improved offensive punch from behind the plate. If he can fix his throwing issues and reclaim his above-average status behind the plate in the process, the Rays may have obtained a steal from the Astros – as we explained here, particularly when you consider it only cost them a small amount of cash.
The Rays lost Joey Butler to waivers after he was designated for assignment on Dec 3rd. He joins the Cleveland organization and will help them fill a need in LF while Michael Brantley deals with an injury recovery period. We explained that although it’s tough to see Butler go, it is an opportunity for Mikie Mahtook and others to grab onto.
The Rays signed two international free agents to contracts, and both are Venezuelan. The first is 19-year-old pitcher Jose Roca who is 6’0″ 195 lbs, and the second is 17-year-old catcher Robert Valera, who is 6’0″ 165 lbs. As soon as we have more information on these players, we’ll pass it on.
Rule 5 Draft
The Rays lost a couple of tremendous outfield prospects in Tyler Goeddel (PHI) and Joey Rickard (BAL), frustrating many Rays fans who were hoping to see them play in Tampa Bay. They also lost catcher Maxx Tissenbaum (MIA).
We touched on almost all of these selections in our Rule 5 Review post.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the month, the Rays have been tied to as many as four teams in serious trade negotiations.
First, the were the Rays and Cubs trade rumors, which we covered in detail. Then, there were the Astros and Rays trade rumors, which we also covered. However, both of those teams seem to have found other trade partners which have enabled them to settle their deficiencies.
The more likely scenarios, at this point, remain the rumors that tied them to the St-Louis Cardinals – although this has lessened since the Mike Leake signing – and most of all the Los Angeles Dodgers who are under tremendous pressure to respond to the additions of their division rivals. We covered the Cardinals rumors here, mostly centred around Jake Odorizzi, and the Dodgers rumors were covered here. We also wondered if in some way, the Rays could land Corey Seager.
With the new year and 2016 around the corner, we can expect the Rays to continue seeking the right fit in trade. The favourites at this point remain the Los Angeles Dodgers, and their likeliest targets remain Odorizzi and reportedly Chris Archer, both of which would cost them a boatload. With workouts getting set soon thereafter and Spring Training on the horizon, expect the Rays to resolve the improvements they’re seemingly trying to make to their lineup.
With Javier Baez seemingly unattainable, it will be interesting to see who they target and whether or not a deal is struck. That in itself should make for a rumor filled January, and one that should keep our attention focused to trade partners and the rumor mill. It’s likely that the Rays are holding firm on their demands and doing their due diligence, which is comforting considering their minute margin for error.