Tampa Bay Rays – A Lesson in Risk Management
Hunter Renfroe brought a lot of tools in the Tommy Pham trade. He hit 33 homers last season and racked up 22 defensive-runs saved. The Rays understand the value in his defense alone, but you can bet they believe they can maximize his offensive production…and they probably will. He’s good paint.
In addition to Renfroe, the Rays received a Top 100 prospect in Xavier Edwards for Pham. While Pham is an excellent player and still relatively cheap for his production, he had two years left on his contract at the time of the trade. His price tag and production are very appealing to any team with postseason aspirations.
The Rays still recognized that the return was too good to pass up. Renfroe is less than half the price of Pham and won’t be a free agent until the 2024 season.
The signing of Japanese sensation Yoshitomo Tsutsugo could yield huge returns if his power game translates to the major leagues. In that case, he’ll be auditioning with the Rays for a big contract that he likely won’t get from them.
Low risk, high reward.
Even Charlie Morton is a great example. Yes, his two-year, $15 million contract represents the largest free-agent contract in Rays’ history, but they believed he had more in the tank and that the changes he had made late in his career were not only sustainable but still had a higher ceiling.
Yes, he had put up good stats over the previous two seasons, but Rays saw more than an aging pitcher with a good run at the end of his career. They saw his elite spin-rate on his curveball (which ranked in the 93rd percentile of the league last season).
The result? Morton finished third in the AL Cy Young voting last season and at only $15 million, was an incredible value. To put that in perspective, Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole finished in first and second place ahead of Morton and they are both scheduled to earn more than double Morton’s 2020 salary.
The national sports media can’t seem to get over the pitching depth of the Rays and that’s why this window isn’t closing. When Morton’s gone, Brendan McKay, Tyler Glasnow, Blake Snell, Ryan Yarbrough, Shane Baz, Joe Ryan, Shane McClanahan, and even more prospects are coming down the pipeline.
Their selection of Nick Bitsko in this year’s draft showed how ahead of the game they are. Everyone knew this kid was next year’s number one overall pick until he announced he would be graduating early and was now draft-eligible.
It’s one thing to say you know that he’s a future number one pick, even though he hasn’t pitched above his sophomore season in high school, it’s a whole other thing to put your money where your mouth is and draft him.
Add him to the list of future impact pitchers.
When word broke that Blake Snell had signed with Scott Boras, I thought that was a good thing for the Rays. That news didn’t mean Snell’s future with the Rays was in jeopardy, it was already not going to happen. If anything, it was good for the Rays.