Tampa Bay Rays Rumors: Archer, Longoria Gaining Interest

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 23: Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 23: Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

The rumor mill is heating up with Longoria and Archer headlining the list, which could make the coming weeks interesting for the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Tampa Bay Rays will do their due diligence before making any type of trade and will not make a trade unless the benefits are beneficial both short and long-term. Probably one of the many reasons why no major trades have occurred, despite the ongoing rumors surrounding Evan Longoria, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and a slew of others.

San Francisco has joined the Cardinals, New York Yankees and New York Mets in the Longoria rumor mill. However, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports via Twitter says the Giants would only trade for Longoria if the Rays would take either Hunter Pence or Denard Span in return.

This trade makes absolutely no sense for the Rays to make. Why would they take on Pence and his $18.5 million (over the next two years) and Span with his $23 million (over the next two years)? Moreover, the outfielders the Rays currently have are considerably younger and healthier than Pence and Span who have spent considerable time on the DL in recent years.

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Will Longoria get traded is the $64,000 dollar question and Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes that several executives from other teams expect Longoria to be dealt before he gains no-trade status in April when he gets his 10-and-5 rights.

During the Winter Meetings, all the hype was a Colome/Longoria trade to the Cardinals, which could have made sense since the Cards had/have the prospects and MLB ready players that the Rays coveted.

However, since departing the meetings the Cards have turned their attention to Baltimore’s Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson of the Blue Jays, though Longoria remains on their radar.

Archer is on just about every team’s radar, but how much are the Rays asking in return could prevent a trade from happening at this time. The Yankees, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Atlanta, St. Louis, Washington and the Chicago Cubs continue to top Archer’s rumor mill.

Marc Topkin via Twitter guesses that a return for Archer would need to be a hefty quality and quantity package of young major league players and prospects, considering that they have four years of control remaining on Archer.

Jake Odorizzi’s name has not come up much, though Minnesota is to have reportedly offered a package of prospects, but the Rays turned them down according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. Berardino via Twitter also mentions that per the Rays, teams interested in Odorizzi will need to come up with a very substantial package.

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Jon Heyman of FanRag via Twitter writes that Odorizzi is on the Nationals radar as they (Nats) are not sure if they can afford Jake Arrieta and or Zack Greinke.

Rays Sign 13 to Minor League Contracts

The Rays have signed 13 players to minor league contracts, with each receiving an invitation to major league spring training. Headlining the group is catcher Nick Cuiffo and pitcher Jonny Venters.

Cuiffo was left unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft and not selected, which was a gamble on the part of the Rays. Speculation was that he would have been selected and no doubt, the Rays are glad that he was not considering that Wilson Ramos could be traded at some point because of his $10.5 million salary in 2018.

Originally signed as a minor league free agent in 2015 by the Rays, Jonny Venters has a very good opportunity this season with a return to the major leagues for the first time since 2012. Sidelined all of the 2013, 2014 seasons due to Tommy John surgeries and a UCL injury in 2016 that ended his rehab, Venters and the Rays are hoping for a healthy 2018.

Venters spent all of 2017 pitching in the minors, with stops with the GCL Rays, Charlotte, Montgomery and Durham where he pitched to a 2.28 ERA in 24 games (two starts) covering 23.2 innings. He struck out 29, walked 11 and allowed just six runs on 15 hits.

Among the 13 players are five with major league experience: INF/OF  Brandon Snyder (Braves, Red Sox, Rangers and Orioles), RHP Cody Hall (Giants, Marlins), RHP Colton Murray (Phillies), LHP Vidal Nuno (Orioles, Mariners, Diamondbacks, Yankees) and LHP Adam Kolarek (Rays).

Others receiving invites are all returning from within the Rays organization: RHP Ian Gibaut, OF Jason Coats, OF Johnny Field, INF Kean Wong, 1B/OF Joe McCarthy and RHP R.J. Alaniz.

Free Agent Market

With three minimal infield signings during the Winter Meetings, the Rays still need to fill their void at first base. One interesting name that has become available is Adrian Gonzalez, traded by the Dodgers to Atlanta and released upon his request to become a free agent.

Elbow soreness and a herniated disc in his back caused Gonzalez to spend time of the DL for the first time in his career in 2017. Those injuries limited his playing time to just 71 games, hitting .242 with three home runs and 30 RBIs.

Notwithstanding with his salary, it will not come into play for the Rays should they decide to take a gamble on the five-time All-Star who has clubbed 311 home runs in his 14-year career while owning a slash line of .288/.359/.488.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports notes that Gonzalez will be paid $21.5 million from his previous contract and that he would consider playing for the league minimum, if he could get significant playing time.

Sticking with first baseman, it seems as though the Rays will wait until later during the off-season to make their move, which is what they did last year when they re-signed Logan Morrison a week before spring training.

Although many first basemen are still available, handfuls are out of the Rays price range (Eric Hosmer, Yonder Alonso and Morrison). However, Mike Napoli, strikeout king Mark Reynolds, Adam Lind and Lucas Duda are among those remaining and could land into the Rays range as time moves on. I have a gut feeling that the Rays will take a gamble on Duda, offering him a similar contract to what they gave Morrison last season.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays Rumors: Something on the Horizon, Could Be

The Rays will do their due diligence before making any type of trade and will not make a trade unless the benefits are beneficial short and long-term. As for free agents, the Rays will play the waiting game as the longer they remain on the market, the cheaper they should come.