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Tampa Bay Rays Rumors: Mets, Yankees onto Smyly

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 The makings of this trade could land the Tampa Bay Rays some pieces needed to getting back into contention, as well adding defensive depth.

Run prevention and defense were the keys for the Tampa Bay Rays success during their playoff years. Last offseason, they altered that by adding more offense, which ultimately led to a big increase in home runs. However, the results were not all positive as evident by their disappointing season.

Rays President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman and manager Kevin Cash are hellbent on getting the Rays back into contention and Silverman’s main task this winter is upgrading the bullpen. Overall, he is looking at additional opportunities that may include corner outfielders, catchers and a first baseman.

As always, the first consideration for the Tampa Bay Rays is the payroll and keeping within their expected $68 million for 2017. In order to do that, the only way possible is trading one or two of their starters.

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It is unlikely at this time that Chris Archer is dealt, unless it is a deal that cannot be passed up. On the other hand, trading Drew Smyly is almost a given as he could potentially net $6.9 via arbitration.

In all likelihood, Smyly is going to request close to that figure when it comes to time to negotiate with the Rays. The Rays will file their offer, probably around $5 million which if Smyly refuses, then off to an arbitration hearing.

On a side note, last February, Smyly beat the Rays via arbitration winning his request of $3.75 in salary – the Rays filed a $3.2 million offer. Therefore, the chances of Smyly winning his request this coming year increase and at that point Silverman would have no choice but to trade him.

Speculation on my part, is that both New York teams could be interested in Smyly’s services as each could provide the Rays some of the pieces that Silverman has on his shopping list.

Starting pitching is high on the Yankees want list and Smyly would certainly fit right into their rotation. The Rays need an upgrade behind the plate and McCann fits the bill.

I doubt it could ever come to fruition, as the Rays would receive outfielder Mason Williams and catcher Brian McCann.

According to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman, the Yankees have asked McCann to waive his no-trade clause; however, the Yankees have denied that saying that as they value his veteran leadership despite McCann no longer being their number one guy behind the dish.

On the financial side of things, the Yankees have the deep pockets to afford Smyly, but what makes it more appealing for them is that Smyly comes with two more years of team control.

As for the Rays getting McCann, he would have to waive his full no-trade clause and there is no indication if the Rays are on his list of acceptable teams. Secondly, McCann has $34 million guaranteed over the next two years, which is way above what the Rays can/could or would pay for his services. There is no doubt the Yankees would have to eat the majority of the guaranteed portion of his contract.

McCann is a switch-hitter, will turn 33-years-old during spring training and would provide the Rays with veteran leadership in and out of the clubhouse, and he could still catch between 85-100 games and as well DH.

Williams is the odd man out in the Yankees outfield as they have Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Tyler Austin topping their depth across the board in the outfield. Once considered a top prospect in the Yankees organization, injuries and inconsistency as well as criticism regarding his work ethic have slowed him down.

The deal that makes a bit of sense is a trade with the Mets, as the Rays would acquire catcher Travis d’Arnaud and outfielder Michael Conforto for Smyly.

While Mets fan could ask, why trade for Smyly – the answer is simple. Theory on my part is that the Mets remain very concerned about Matt Harvey (Surgery thoracic outlet syndrome), Zack Wheeler (Tommy John Surgery), Jacob DeGrom (Nerve surgery) and Steven Matz (Bone Spur Surgery).

While it is expected that they will be back, the time-frame for the return is not certain. That is the reason for their interest in Smyly should one or more not be ready for the start of the season.

d’Arnaud was acquired along with Noah Syndergaard from the Toronto Blue Jays for R.A. Dickey and was a highly touted prospect, projected to be an above average catcher both offensively and defensively but has yet to live up to those expectations.

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Often injured in the minor and majors, d’Arnaud turned things around with the Mets in 2014 (108-GP, 13-HR, 41-RBI, .242) and 2015 (67-GP, 12-HR, 41-RBI, .268) but everything came to a halt in 2016 as a strained rotator cuff sidelined him for 50 games.

Overall, on the season he played in 75 games, hitting just .247 with four home runs and 15 RBI, in 251 at-bats losing his starters job to former Ray Rene Rivera by August.

Like the Tampa Bay Rays, the Mets are looking to upgrade at the catcher position and though d’Arnaud has struggled, a change of scenery could just be what he needs. Financially, he fits in with the Rays.

He is arbitration eligible for the first time and is projected to make $1.7 million (2016 salary-$524,604), plus is under team control through 2019 and reaches free agency in 2020.

Making the deal valuable would be the addition of Michael Conforto who is not arbitration eligible until 2019 and reaches free agency in 2022. Conforto is a solid defensive left fielder, with a very good arm, has excellent power and will be 24-years-old in April.

Conforto had an up and down season, traveling between Triple-A Las Vegas and the Big Apple, and from all indications fell out of favor with Mets manager Terry Collins. Given this and the fact that the Mets have a logjam in the outfield, Conforto is expendable.

Despite hitting just .220, he did hit 12 home runs with 42 RBI and would be a solid replacement over Corey Dickerson and from a financial standpoint, like d’Arnaud fits into the Rays checkbook – he earned $517,246 in 2016.

You cannot disregard the financial side to the trade as the Rays relieve themselves of approximately $6.9 million…

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While this speculative trade does not address the bullpen needs for the Rays, with the money saved (approximately $4.6 million) Silverman could possible look at free agents.

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