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8 trades later, the Tampa Bay Rays addressed most of their needs

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PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 21: Jesus Aguilar #24 of the Milwaukee Brewers bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on July 21, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 21: Jesus Aguilar #24 of the Milwaukee Brewers bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on July 21, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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The madness started on July 28th and ended at 4 p.m. on July 31st, during that time the Rays made 8 trades, adding four Major League pieces to their roster.

The Tampa Bay Rays entered the final week prior to the deadline in search of starting pitching, power from the right side, added consistency at the plate, and bullpen help. They successfully addressed three of those needs and took an interesting approach to fixing their bullpen woes.

Here is a breakdown of all the trades:

July 28th:

Ian Gibaut made his Major League debut only a little more than two weeks prior to being shipped off to Texas in an effort to clear a spot on the Rays’ 40 man roster. Ian Gibaut was the Rays’ 21st best prospect according to Baseball America.

The decision to trade Hunter Wood may seem a bit surprising to some, but the Rays are facing a roster crunch and they decided to part ways with the young right hander. Christian Arroyo, once touted as Longoria’s successor at third base never really panned out as he battled through a long list of injuries.

In Cardenas, the Rays get back a 21-year-old outfielder who may hit for power and progress as a corner guy. Simply put, this move was more about freeing up more space on the 40 man than it was about getting Cardenas or the international money.

At first, I was expecting Eric Sogard to be part of a bigger package for Will Smith, but in the end Sogard will finish the year in Tampa Bay and hopefully provide some much-needed consistency at the plate.

The Rays really hadn’t been connected to Sogard, but with Brandon Lowe still recovering and Joey Wendle heading back to the IL with wrist inflammation, Sogard should get a ton of at bats here early on.

Hitting .298 with an OPS+ of 123 with 10 bombs, Sogard should give the Rays’ offense a boost.

July 31st:

A straight up trade here nearly 4 hours before the 4 p.m. deadline, the Rays found the right-handed power they so desperately needed. They had to give up Jake Faria who has struggled to stick in Tampa Bay this season. Faria had a great rookie campaign in 2017 and battled injuries and inconsistency in 2018.

While his numbers may not jump off the page, Jesus Aguilar is an impact bat that the Rays have missed this season. Last season, Aguilar hit 35 homers and drove in 108 runs en route to his first All-Star appearance. This season Aguilar has struggled, hitting only .225 with 8 bombs over 94 games. But, he has turned the corner this month, hitting .298 with three bombs in July.

Hopefully, his recent success will carry over into the last two months of the season as the Rays look to secure a Wildcard spot.  Also of note is that Aguilar is under team control through 2022.

Just a trade to improve the depth behind the plate. This is simply a trade that we used to see after the deadline by the process of waivers.

I was a little surprised that the Rays dealt Kolarek, who has been heavily relied upon by Kevin Cash this season, but the return shouldn’t be ignored. Niko Hulsizer is an up and coming prospect in the Dodgers system who has combined for 20 bombs and 23 doubles between the low and high levels of Single-A ball.

Yet another move to free up a spot on the Rays’ 40 man roster, the Rays flipped Joe McCarthy for a southpaw in the lower levels of the Giants’ system.

Arguably the biggest and potentially most impactful move of the day for the Rays came in the final moments leading up to and surpassing the deadline. News broke after the 4 p.m. deadline had passed that the Rays would be sending their 4th best prospect to Miami in exchange for a pair of pitchers with a ton of control left.

In addition to losing Jesus Sanchez, who projects to be an everyday major leaguer, the Rays also forfeited “The Opener”, Ryne Stanek.

Stanek had been an impressive weapon early in games over the past two seasons for the Rays, but he struggled when coming into later situations.

Nick Anderson, a 29-year-old rookie, has put up huge strikeout numbers in 2019 and will play a crucial role in the bullpen. This season, he has posted a 3.92 ERA (2.72 FIP) with 69 strikeouts in only 43.2 IP.

Trevor Richards should enter the rotation providing additional innings along with Charlie Morton, Brendan McKay, and Yonny Chirinos. Essentially a league average pitcher, Richards will look to improve down the stretch. Across 48 career appearances (45 starts), Richards has posted a 4.46 ERA (4.38 FIP) and an ERA+ of 89. He needs to trim down on the walks, but he should be able to provide a bit of stability to the Rays’ rotation.

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What is extremely appealing about both Richards and Anderson, is that they have years of team control left and aren’t simply rentals. Neither will hit free agency until the 2025 season, meaning both could have a major impact on this season and those that follow.

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