Tampa Bay Rays must balance the need for ‘rentals’ with trading prospects
By George Curcio
Having already brought slugger Nelson Cruz to St. Pete, the Tampa Bay Rays may not be done wheeling-and-dealing before the trade deadline this Friday, July 30, at 4 PM.
The question is whether the Tampa Bay Rays want to trade prospects from their top-rated farm system for one-year “rentals,” which is essentially what Kris Bryant or Max Scherzer would be, if either of them is acquired from the Chicago Cubs and Washington Nationals, respectively.
Tampa Bay Rays considering Kyle Gibson
The Rays are also reportedly considering Kyle Gibson from the Texas Rangers. Whereas Scherzer has long-established himself as one of baseball’s best pitchers, Gibson has had an iffy career that currently leaves him as a sub-.500 pitcher.
However, Gibson has had a successful 2021 season, for which he has a 6-3 record with a 2.87 ERA. He is also under team control through 2022, which means the Rays could keep him for a year longer than Scherzer or Bryant.
Do the Tampa Bay Rays need to make another move?
The main question is whether the Rays feel a need to acquire one of them in order to catch the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. As of Tuesday, the Rays are one game behind Boston, which the Tampa Bay Rays have accomplished with a payroll estimated at $74,000.
Scherzer would provide the “big” arm in the rotation that has been lacking since Tyler Glasnow‘s injury in mid-June. If Glasnow comes back before the playoffs, he and Scherzer would be a formidable one-two tandem for the post-season.
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Bryant would add the same benefit as Cruz, mainly the ability to hit from the right side. So far this season, Bryant has been hitting .346 against southpaws. As noted when Cruz was acquired, the Rays have hit poorly this year against left-handed pitching.
Bryant also fits the Rays’ fondness for defensively versatile players. Bryant can play either of the corner infield positions or the outfield.