Rays Offseason Plan Step 3: Bolster the bullpen
Previously I suggested that the Rays should sign Blake Treinen after his surprising non-tender by the Athletics, but that won’t happen now since the Dodgers snagged him. Here are some other options:
Option #1: Dellin Betances
The Tampa Bay Rays have been connected to the former Yankees reliever this offseason and a deal would make a lot of sense for both sides. Betances, who missed almost all of 2019 with a multitude of injuries will be looking for a one year deal to rebuild value, while the Rays are always looking for “buy-low” opportunities.
MLBTR projects that he will sign a one year deal worth 7M with the Rays by the end of the offseason. Betances is only a year removed from a very solid 2018 season during which he threw 66.2 innings and struck out 115 batters. He pitched to a 2.70 ERA and a 156 ERA+. Prior to 2018, Betances was an all star in each of the seasons spanning from 2014 to 2017, during which time he struck out 492 batters in 306.2 innings of work.
If he is indeed healthy and ready to go for 2020, a healthy Betances could really solidify an already scary bullpen in Tampa Bay.
Option #2: Pedro Strop
Another “buy-low” option, Strop is coming off of a down year with the Cubs, but prior to his 2019 woes he was consistently one of the best relievers in the game. MLBTR projects him to sign a one year deal worth 5M with the Red Sox.
Here is what they had to say about his outlook:
"His stretch from 2014-18 placed him in the top 15 in MLB in ERA, strikeout rate, and ground-ball rate for relievers. Strop faltered with a 4.97 ERA and reduced velocity this year, possibly due in part to IL stints for hamstring and neck injuries. The 34-year-old righty could easily bounce back in 2020 and should garner widespread interest."
Again, a healthy Strop in 2020 could really solidify an already lethal pen in Tampa Bay.
The Rays will surely scour the trade market and free agent market for cheap and effective relievers this offseason as they do every offseason. The good news is that the backend of their pen is already so good that the other two priorities rank higher in this article.