Rays Still Exploring Bullpen Options, Sternberg on Trades

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 17: Stuart Sternberg, principal owner of the Tampa Bay Rays (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 17: Stuart Sternberg, principal owner of the Tampa Bay Rays (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) /

The Tampa Bay Rays trading frenzy in the past couple of days may not be over as they continue to explore all options that remain to cure the bullpen woes and possibly add another bat to the lineup.

If there is one thing that is evident in regards to the three bullpen additions, the Rays still have room for improvement and it looks as though they are going to throw in the chips and make a splash in the hours winding down to Monday’s 4:00 p.m. trade deadline.

The Rays have done some uncustomary moves, which was trading prospects, adding salary and trading for “rental players.”  It began with the trades of Adeiny Hechavarria, Trevor Plouffe and Sergio Romo and within the past couple of days the trades for Dan Jennings, Lucas Duda and Steve Cishek. All in all over $7 million was added to payroll, as well as trading prospects Casey Gillaspie, Drew Smith and others.

Brad Hand, Justin Wilson and Hunter Strickland are three prominent relievers that are still on the radar of the Rays among others and as well, the Rays will consider trading Brad Miller or Tim Beckham if it can help bring a return to improve the team. From what owner Stuart Sternberg told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, there is more to come.

“The impetus?” principal owner Stuart Sternberg said. “This is a special group of guys who have the talent and are hungry.”

"“The money and the talent we no longer have hurts, and makes us a bit weaker in the future,” Sternberg said. “In a perfect world there will be more to do to improve the club. It’s hard to see how that presents itself, though I have confidence (we) will explore any and every opportunity.”"

A crucial four-game series against the Yankees that began on Thursday is clear evidence that much more help is need in the bullpen. Of course, if the starters were able to pitch into the seventh or eighth innings things would be different, however they are not, so it is an early visit to the bullpen and the roller coaster ride begins.

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Despite the struggles that Alex Colome is going through, the innings leading up to his arrival are concerning as steady Brad Boxberger has not been so steady.

Sergio Romo shows signs of why the Dodgers released him, Dan Jennings had a rough beginning on Thursday, though looked better in his second appearance.

And then there is Steve Cishek who had an auspicious start striking out the side on Saturday and the steady arms of Chase Whitley and Tommy Hunter who cannot pitch every day that round out the current bullpen.

Additionally, Ray’s manager Kevin Cash has had to turn to rookies Andrew Kittredge and Adam Kolarek, two rookies that are/were not prepared to pitch in high leverage situations were put in those situations numerous times. Both players have since been optioned back to Triple-A Durham.

Since Kolarek is no longer, Jennings is the only left-hander in the bullpen and when and until Xavier Cedeno returns, Jennings as good as he is cannot pitch in and day out.

Having two second baseman in Tim Beckham and Brad Miller is one too many, so the Rays are listening to offers. In as much Beckham is having the best year of his career, he continues to make mental mistakes on the bases and miscues on the field. Beckham may draw more interest because of his versatility (1B, 2B, SS), salary ($885,000 -2017) and that he is under team control via arbitration through 2020.

Miller has been slowed by nagging injuries most of the season, may not draw as much interest despite his versatility (1B, 2B, SS). Although he is under team control via arbitration through the 2019 season and is making $3.575 million this season, (likely to get a raise via arbitration) now could be a good time to part ways.

President of Baseball Operation Matt Silverman, GMs Erik Neander and Chaim Bloom have their work cut out for them in the remaining hours to get some more pieces to the bullpen and to possibly add a right-handed bat.

Next: Rays Continuing to Stay Active in Bullpen Hunt

But, in order to get a Brad Hand, Justin Wilson or Hunter Strickland and or a right-handed bat, the Rays may need to include either Miller, Beckham or both plus a prospect. It’s now or ever, as 4.5 games back of the AL East and the Wild Card is getting away. The time is now to go all in, throw in the chips boys and let’em fall where they may!