Though the Rays are on pace for their second straight losing season, the team’s pitching depth gives them hope for a turn-around in 2016, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi will be joined in the rotation by the now-healthy Matt Moore and Drew Smyly. The fifth spot will be contested between Erasmo Ramirez, Nate Karns or top prospect Blake Snell, with Alex Colome and Matt Andriese on hand as further depth options. That’s not even counting Alex Cobb, who will be back from Tommy John surgery late next season. While Tampa certainly may want to hang onto its pitching depth given the team’s recent injury issues, I would think the Rays may also considering dangling an arm or two as trade bait this winter to add some offensive help.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Adam Jones plans to speak to owner Peter Angelos about the Orioles’ offseason plans, the outfielder tells the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly. It will be a challenging winter for the O’s with eight free agents, though Jones feels most of them would come back for the right offer since “it’s a great place to play. I know they all like being here.” If some leave, Jones notes that the silver lining is freed-up payroll space. “It’s going to be exciting to see what goes on this offseason because I know when you have a lot of free agents that means you have a lot of money to spend,” Jones said. “And so, hopefully, I can influence some officials to spend a little bit of that money.”
- Last winter saw the Orioles also lose Nelson Cruz, Andrew Miller and Nick Markakis to free agency, and another free agent exodus could threaten this competitive chapter in O’s history, as closer Zach Britton notes to Connolly. “If you look at it, our window was a three- to four-year window that everyone was talking about. ’OK, if we’re going to do it, now is the time.’ So, yeah, if we lose every single guy [to free agency], it’s going to be a real challenge to have to replace them,” Britton said. “You have to do it through the draft, you’ve got to do it through trades or do it through signing free agents. We’ve got to do it somehow.”
- Two of those free agents say they want to return to the Orioles. Steve Pearce tells Connolly that “I’d love to be back. I’d love for everybody to be back,” while Matt Wieters tells MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski that he knows this could be his last few days in a Baltimore uniform. “I’m trying to embrace it and enjoy this last bit of the season,” Wieters said. “I’ve been very fortunate being able to to be here as long as I have and would love to stay here. But that is all stuff that will be controlled and talked about in the offseason.”
- There is “healthy skepticism” around baseball that the Red Sox will fully explore having Hanley Ramirez as a full-time first baseman next year, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports. This and the hefty $66MM still owed to Ramirez will make it difficult for the Sox to get any kind of decent return if they want to trade him.
- Eduardo Rodriguez isn’t technically a homegrown prospect (the Red Sox acquired him from the Orioles last summer in the Andrew Miller trade), though CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam believes the young southpaw can be the first front-of-the-rotation arm produced from Boston’s farm system since Clay Buchholz. Rodriguez, 22, has posted a 3.85 ERA, 2.65 K/BB rate and 7.2 K/9 over 121 2/3 IP for the Sox in his rookie season.
- It’s been a trying year overall for Rick Porcello, but the right-hander tells WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford that he’s learned some lessons from his first year with the Red Sox and is going into 2016 on a high note. Porcello signed a four-year, $80MM contract with Boston prior to the season and became a target of fan ire after his early struggles, though he’s pitched well since coming back from a DL stint in August.