Tampa Bay Rays make no deals at deadline – but, who needs them?
By George Curcio
Friday’s Major League Baseball trading deadline came with Tampa Bay Rays’ fans holding their breath with each announcement of a trade. But what they were hoping to hear never came.
Instead, it was news of possible acquisitions going elsewhere. Max Scherzer and Kris Bryant were headed to the West Coast of the U. S., rather than the West Coast of Florida. On top of that, the Rays also traded closer Diego Castillo, who went to Seattle for reliever JT Chargois.
In short, it was nothing that Tampa Bay Rays fans expected. As the Yankees were adding Anthony Rizzo and Joey Gallo, and the Red Sox were adding Kyle Schwarber, the Rays seemed to be standing pat.
Fans likely were wondering if General Manager Erik Neander had charged his phone or if he was now out of touch with his counterparts.
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Tampa Bay Rays big move
What fans hopefully remembered is that Neander did not wait until the last moment and had already totally transformed the roster through the addition of designated hitter Nelson Cruz.
In fact, Cruz had already contributed a pair of homers to the Rays during games the final week of the deadline.
Then, as if the team was sending a message to fans. the Rays moved to within a half-game of the Red Sox by convincingly downing the Sox, 7-3, at Tropicana Field. Part of the hope to acquire Bryant was to help the Rays’ pathetic average against lefthanders.
Third-baseman Yandy Diaz addressed that concern with three hits, including a home run, against southpaw Martin Perez. Also homering against Perez were outfielder Randy Arozarena and catcher Mike Zunino, both hitting from the right side of the plate.
Chargois also made an appearance, throwing a perfect seventh inning for his Rays’ debut.
Did the Tampa Bay Rays win the deadline?
In answering the question of who emerged from the trading deadline as a better team, the first consideration has to be where each team started. The Yankees and Red Sox were both looking to address deficiencies that required more drastic solutions. And they still don’t know if that is what was done.
The Red Sox are hoping to transform Schwarber from an outfielder to a first-baseman, and do not know if they will succeed.
The Yankees added Joey Gallo, who may hit some home runs, but is a lifetime .210 hitter. With the blasts also come notable holes in his swing.
It may also be instructive to look at the last few games played by the Rays. After Thursday’s 14-0 drubbing of the Yankees, and a three-game sweep of the Red Sox this past weekend, the Rays bats, which have been a concern, particularly against left-handed pitching, have come alive.
The Rays have been 7-3 over their last ten games. Notably, they got a headstart over the Red Sox and the Yankees, not waiting until the trade deadline to improve their team.