2 dream trade candidates to improve the Rays' lineup

These players could help the Rays snap out of their July doldrums
Chicago White Sox v New York Mets
Chicago White Sox v New York Mets / Mike Stobe/GettyImages

With the trade deadline only two days away, the stove is officially hot and trade negotiations are now moving at a blistering pace. The Tampa Bay Rays are almost certain to be among the teams most active on the phone lines, especially following a rather disappointing month of July. 

While pitching depth is likely to be the area the team is most concerned with addressing following key injuries, the Rays certainly would take on another bat if the right deal came about. Many solid hitters could be available for teams looking to upgrade their lineups, with these players listed being two dream candidates that would perfectly fit what the Rays could be looking for.

Tampa Bay Rays' dream trade target 1: Tommy Pham, New York Mets

The 2023 deadline thus far has been filled with reunions. The Dodgers re-acquired fan favorites Joe Kelly and Kike Hernandez, while reliever Kendall Graveman returned to the Astros. The Rays could be looking to join in on the fun, and Tommy Pham would be the perfect fit for a potential reunion.

Tommy Pham is having one of the better seasons of his career with the Mets. He has always mashed against left-handed pitchers, but this year his splits against righties have been well above average. 

The element of Pham’s game that could provide the Rays the most value is his plate discipline. This is an area the Rays have been lacking as of late, as the team’s walk rate is 21st in all of baseball. Pham has been well above average at taking free passes to first base throughout his career, with a walk percentage that has routinely been in the double digits every year. His chase rate is also flat-out phenomenal, as he is in the 95th percentile per Statcast. One of the biggest needs of the Rays is a player that can grind out at-bats and take pitches, and Pham is one of the very best in the game at doing this.

Pham could take the role of the recently struggling Harold Ramirez, serving as a rental corner outfielder/designated hitter. Pham would largely be a placeholder, holding down the fort for the high-potential prospects the Rays are currently developing in the minor leagues.

Tampa Bay Rays dream trade target No. 2: Jake Rogers, Detroit Tigers

Jake Rogers is one of the more low-key names quietly mentioned in deadline rumors, but he really shouldn’t be. If he is available to interested teams, he would be one of the more valuable pieces out there, despite not being a very well-known commodity.

Rogers has been an above-average catcher both at the plate and behind the dish. He is sporting a 104 wRC+ this year, which is a much better mark than both Bethancourt and Mejia. Rogers also is a solid option against both right-handed and left-handed pitchers, unlike the two current Rays catchers who are almost strictly platoon bats. When Rogers is at the plate he is definitely a three-true outcome player, as while he strikes out a lot, he makes up for it with an over 10% walk rate and an 88% barrel rate per Statcast.

Catchers derive more value from run prevention than any other position, and Rogers shows plenty of promise in that area of his game. His pitch framing is in the 82nd percentile according to Statcast, something that could certainly help the Rays’ pitching staff, especially if the organization chooses not to bring in veteran arms. His pop-time is also above average, which could come in clutch when there is traffic on the basepaths.

There is plenty of reason for the Tigers to keep Jake Rogers, as he is a great piece that is still relatively young. That said, a decent package could certainly sway them, and if the Rays are serious about upgrading at catcher, they should consider making the call.