Tampa Bay Rays: Buyers at the Trade Deadline

SEATTLE, WA - JULY 07: Steve Cishek (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - JULY 07: Steve Cishek (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images) /

With two months left in the season the Tampa Bay Rays are going all in.  Adding key pieces to roster spots that needed to be upgraded shows the fans and players that this season should be the year the playoff drought finally ends.

A month ago the Tampa Bay Rays traded for stellar defensive shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.  He has already saved the team a handful of runs with his highlight real defensive plays.  Also his hitting has been a huge contribution is some games which was not expected.

He is currently hitting .267 but a lot of those hits came a clutch times and helped win some games.  The main reason the Rays traded for him was to have a sure-handed shortstop that will not make many errors.

For position players the only other piece needed was a left handed bat to help with depth.  That’s were the trade yesterday for the New York Mets first baseman Lucas Duda comes in.  He is a left-handed bat with power.

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Currently hitting .246 with 17 home runs his bat will help out the already solid Rays lineup.  He will mainly play DH but will also fill in some at first base.  Currently Logan Morrison is in a slump and having more days off might help him get back on track to start crushing home runs again.

The weak spot for the Rays was by far their bullpen and that has completely changed after the trades this week.  It all started with the acquisition of World Series champ Sergio Romo.  While he isn’t pitching like he did when he got the last out for the San Francisco Giants World Series win, he will still benefit the bullpen.

His pitch speed has decreased over the years but he can still place it and get much needed outs.  His knowledge and experience alone will help a young pitching staff.

Another relief pitcher the Rays traded for was Dan Jennings.  He is a left handed pitcher and the Rays bullpen lacked a solid lefty reliever after Xavier Cedeno got injured.  Jennings has been a solid pitcher his entire career and has an ERA of 2.89.  He should become one of the Rays top relievers right away.

While he might have cost the Rays the win against the Wildcard leading Yankees Thursday night, his plane from Chicago landed only hours before the game so we will let that slip up slide.  From here on out he should help solidify some leads when he takes the ball over from the starters.

The final piece of the puzzle was completed today.  The Rays traded beloved do it all pitcher Erasmo Ramirez to the Seattle Mariners for relief pitcher Steve Cishek.  While Ramirez was a favorite in the clubhouse and used in a number of different ways from starter to closer the trade for Cishek will be an upgrade for the Rays.

His career ERA is 2.83 and he spent a few years as the Miami Marlins closer.  This season he has an ERA of 3.15 but that has decreased significantly since his game on May 16th when he allowed three earned runs.  Since then he has allowed only one earned run max and has multiple appearance with no runs allowed.

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He will be another solid addition to the Rays bullpen and fans should get a glimpse of him at some point against the Yankees this weekend.

While all of these trades have been occurring one of the Rays core players began his rehab assignment.  Kevin Kiermaier will be back before you know it.  He should return to the lineup the first day he is eligible to come off the DL, and that will be August 9 against the Red Sox.

While Mallex Smith has been hitting and tearing up the base path he is a defensive liability in the outfield and cost the Rays a win in the Rangers series when he dropped a routine fly ball to end the inning.  So Gold Glove winner Kiermaier will shore up the defense and help the Rays more with the playoff push.

The playoff and division race is heating up.  The Rays got dethroned from the top AL Wildcard spot but there are still two months of baseball. Not only are both Wild Card spots still up for grabs the American League East division title is still wide open.

The Rays currently sit only three games back for the division lead from the Boston Red Sox.  For the Wild Card the Rays are only 2.5 games behind the Yankees for the top spot and 1.5 games behind the hot Kansas City Royals for the second Wild Card spot.

There are also a number of teams only a couple of games behind the Rays that are pushing for one of the Wild Card spots.  Teams such as the Seattle Mariners, Minnesota Twins and Texas Rangers.

Next: Rays Trade Erasmo Ramirez to Seattle for Steve Cishek

Its going to be a fun and interesting final two months of the season and hopefully the Rays can end their playoff drought and have a run like they did in 2008.