Grading Rays' frenzied trades for Jose Caballero, Richie Palacios

On Friday, the Tampa Bay Rays received two players in trades in Jose Caballero and Richie Palacios. Here are the grades for each acquisition.
Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals
Milwaukee Brewers v St. Louis Cardinals / Joe Puetz/GettyImages

The Tampa Bay Rays completed two trades on Friday that helped to fuel their position player groups for the upcoming 2024 season. Here are grades for each trade, as well as a projection of their effects on the Rays moving forward.

Seattle Mariners trade infielder Jose Caballero to the Tampa Bay Rays for outfielder Luke Raley

The first trade involves Raley leaving Tampa Bay after a season of growth spent in St. Petersburg. He finished the year with a .249 average and a .823 OPS, which was the highest in his three years in baseball. He also cracked 19 home runs after having just three the previous two seasons. Raley provides a good lefty bat for the Mariners and can really begin to grow in the power department over time. 

The Rays get Caballero, who is mainly a pull-hitting, fast infielder. In his first year in the majors, he recorded 26 stolen bases, making him top five in that department among MLB rookies. This attribute could work well, as the Rays can put him all around the infield and he fits a small-ball style that manager Kevin Cash practices. With time, he can also begin to develop as a hitter.

Grade/Reaction: B

The Rays landed a stealing threat, but it came at the price of a vital team need of a left-handed hitter. Nonetheless, Caballero looked promising his rookie season and has room to grow.

St. Louis Cardinals trade outfielder Richie Palacios to the Tampa Bay Rays for RHP Andrew Kittredge

The second trade sent Kittredge to theSt. Louis Cardinals, which helps them beef up a bullpen that ranked towards the bottom of Major League Baseball in ERA, strikeouts, and WHIP. He came off of a long injury in 2023 and produced in his limited 11.2 innings on the mound. During that time, he put up a 3.09 ERA and had 10 strikeouts, while giving up just one home run during that stretch.

Palacios comes as a developmental player to the Ray,s and history tells you that is something that they do well. In 2023, he had a .258 average in 94 at-bats, but put up an impressive .823 OPS over that time. He showed great patience at the plate, as he had a chase rate, whiff rate, and K rate all below 25%. He began to develop power with the Cardinals, as well knocking 6 home runs down the stretch of a forgotten season, while most of the baseball world wasn't looking.

Grade/Reaction: A-

The Rays get a very promising looking hitter in Palacios and, despite giving up a solid reliever, Tampa's pitching remains deep and strong, despite being largely injured in 2023.