Rays Must Be Buyers and Sellers by Monday’s Trade Deadline

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 17: Mallex Smith (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - JULY 17: Mallex Smith (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images) /

The MLB trade deadline is approximately 72 hours away, with many arms and sticks ready to change uniforms. The Rays are in a very unique spot to do both in the next handful of days

The MLB trade deadline is approximately 72 hours away, with many arms and sticks ready to change uniforms in an attempt to make a final push toward the playoff race, or for certain teams, to rebuild their farm systems. The Rays are in a very unique spot to do both in the next handful of days.

Dating back to last year, when the team won just 68 abysmal games, rumors circled about ace Chris Archer’s available.  It was almost seemed certain that the 28-year old North Carolina native was destined for new digs.  Fast forward to this year’s deadline and Archer is having a career year in the strikeout and walk range, although he has been hit around quite a bit this season.

Yesterday, Tampa Bay acquired left-handed reliever Dan Jennings in exchange for former 2014 first round pick Casey Gillaspie.  In addition to bolstering the pen by adding a very important left handed arm, the Rays took a leap and acquired Mets first baseman Lucas Duda, who is in the final year of his contract.  The Mets needed to move Duda, as they have impact top prospects Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario ready to make their debuts in the coming weeks.

Duda, 31, is hitting .246 on the season with 17 long trips which immediate places him in fourth place among qualified hitters in the Rays lineup in the team home run race.  Likely to become the everyday designated hitter against right handed pitchers, Duda will immediately provide protection to the other hitters in the lineup and big thump at times.

Steven Souza Jr., Corey Dickerson and Logan Morrison are ALL having career seasons, adding another bat to a potent lineup was not only needed for the Rays offense, but necessary in beating teams like the Yankees and Red Sox to the punch.

This move also instills a vote of confidence in the team, something stars like Archer and Evan Longoria felt the team was missing in the past years.  Longoria is also en fuego as of late, adding to his perennially-stellar glove.  Also, in case you missed Longo’s pizza review with Barstool Sports president, Dave Portnoy, here is the link.  Portnoy, a Boston native, casually asked Longoria to hit a home run prior to yesterday’s loss.

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With all of this said, the team still has room for a couple more moves before the deadline.  Not only is another major league reliever needed for this young and inconsistent pen, but a starting pitcher must be moved.

With the team in playoff contention, a trade of Archer is almost certainly not going to happen.  However, with Alex Cobb due for free agency in 2018, I expect him to be moved for a couple reasons.  Not only has Cobb pitched very well as of late, coming off 2016 elbow surgery, but Brent Honeywell, who is now being called the top pitching prospect in baseball, is very ready for big league hitters it seems.

In 17 starts at Durham (AAA) in 2017, Honeywell has posted a remarkable 11.59 K/9, while walking just 2.52 per nine innings.  His 4.23 ERA leaves much to be desired, but his 2.80 FIP raises some eyebrows.  The kid is going to be good, with a report last night coming out that the team is considering using Honeywell out of the bullpen during the final playoff push, just how they introduced former top pitching prospect, David Price.

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The team is winning, and Cobb is pitching well, so some figure trading a viable Major League arm to promote an unproven 22-year old kid isn’t necessarily kosher, but I see Cobb as being very expendable after watching Honeywell pitch in Montgomery a handful of times.

The kid has a presence about him.  That bulldog attitude you can’t teach.  You also can’t teach a 95-mph fastball with movement, his plus curveball and changeup and of course, lest not forget, his screwball which is not novelty, but a legitimate-plus pitch.

Yesterday, Tampa Bay acquired a useful left-handed reliever and added a left-handed thumper to the already heavy hitting lineup for virtually nothing, but there is still much to yearn with the team blowing a quality start and 10 strikeouts from Archer in the late innings to New York last night.

The team is a very unique, and lucky position to not only be buyers at the deadline, but to also bolster their farm system by moving an experienced starting arm.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Casey Gillaspie Had Become Expendable

Regardless, the team is playing with a chip on its shoulder as all good Rays teams do, and now they have that vote of confidence from the front office so look out for the boys in the dome in the final two months of the 2017 season.  Where did it go?