Tampa Bay Rays Rumors: Interest for Colome, Starters

Sep 23, 2016; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets left fielder Michael Conforto (30) hits a home run against the Philadelphia. He would fit in nicely as a corner outfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2016; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets left fielder Michael Conforto (30) hits a home run against the Philadelphia. He would fit in nicely as a corner outfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Ongoing trade talks with numerous teams the Tampa Bay Rays remain constant as the hot stove season continues for pitching help.

As the top free agent closers (Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon) are off the market, teams now are turning to the trade market with the Tampa Bay Rays as a potential partner.

What teams wouldn’t want the chance to trade for a bargain contract where the team has control through 2020, where the closer tied for fourth in the American League with 37 saves, posted a 1.91 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 51 appearances, earned his first All-Star selection all while being thrown into the position because of an injury.

Welcome Alex Colome, the hottest commodity as the offseason progresses in what could turn out to be one of the wildest hot stove season’s ever.  During the Winter Meetings, the Washington Nationals were one of the first teams to discuss a trade.

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Washington jumped at the opportunity because they believed that those available via free agency were too expensive. How true, since Chapman and Jansen reached agreements earning the top two contracts ever paid for a closer and Melancon was not far behind.

However, the Nationals had no idea that the Rays would ask for the moon, the sky and everything above in return for Colome, thus shutting down any possibility of obtaining him. Closers, especially good ones are hard to come by, even if Colome has just the one season under his belt.

According to Peter Gammons via Twitter, the New York Mets asked about Colome with the Rays asking for either Michael Conforto or Amed Rosario as the starting point in the deal – the Mets balked.

Why the Mets balked is not known as Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote that the Mets are willing to trade nearly anything including Conforto – but not their prized shortstop prospect Amed Rosario.

"To that extent, one Mets official said the team is pretty much open to talking about any of their young players except for top prospect, shortstop Amed Rosario."

The addition of Conforto would solve the Rays needs for a corner outfielder but not a right-handed/DH batter they need.  Conforto can play all three outfield spots, and would fit nicely in either corner for the Rays. It would however free up a very congested logjam in the Mets outfield that currently includes Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Lagares, Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson.

The Mets need for Colome is not really a necessity, but as a stopgap as Jeurys Familia could be suspended if MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred determines that Familia violated the league’s domestic violence policy.

As well, the Rays could wait until spring training before deciding about dealing Colome and a consideration would be whether the team has all the pieces in place that would make them contenders in 2017. Let’s face it, the Rays are a better team with Colome and cannot take the chance if an injury pops up during spring training – say to Brad Boxberger and now the Rays are looking towards help from within the organization if Colome is not around.

The Seattle Mariners, a frequent trade partner with the Rays has called once again inquiring about starting pitching per Jon Morosi of MLB.com, who also says the Mariners have contacted the Cincinnati Reds as well.

MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes that Seattle would like to add a mid-rotation starter and executives from two clubs told ESPN’s Jayson Stark that the Rays are most motivated to deal Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly.

John’s writes that the Mariners “might be in a position” to work out a deal with for Cobb or Smyly, but not for Chris Archer or Jake Odorizzi as they do not have the prospects to make a deal work.

Like their current situation with Colome, the Rays are not in any hurry to make a deal. However, it is looking more like Smyly and Cobb and possibly Erasmo Ramirez are becoming the most likely candidates to be traded during the offseason and the Rays will take a wait and see approach with Archer and Odorizzi.

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The thing about Ramirez is that he can start, which he did for most of 2015. However, inconsistencies throughout last season and a projected pay increase via arbitration have made him a potential trade chip.

Prior to the trade deadline this past summer, the Los Angeles Dodgers were in trade talks with the Rays about Ramirez and with ex-Rays VP of Operations Andrew Friedman running the show in LA, I’m thinking maybe there remains a chance that LA would be interested in him now.

The Dodgers have their closer set, the rotation is still under review, and their bullpen lacks a back-end reliever. They are still in need of a set-up man as Joe Blanton and J.P. Howell are testing the free agent waters, but after the signing of Jansen, Ken Rosenthal of Fox tweets that the Dodgers are not planning to offer more than a one-year deal to any free agent. At Ramirez’ projected salary of $3.5 million, that’s a bargain for Los Angeles and he certainly could fill the set-up role for them.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays Rumors: Colome, Ramirez Drawing Interest

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Bottom line, the Rays are reluctant to part with any of their players if the price is not right. Teams in need must be willing pay for whom they’ll receive based on the Rays projections and needs – while they feel the price may be too high, the Rays on the other hand feel that it is appropriate.