The expectation is that this summer’s trade market will be largely devoid of quality starting pitchers, but last-place Tampa Bay could change that. The Rays, who are 33-47 and 10 games out of a Wild Card position, are discussing putting some of their young starters on the block well in advance of the Aug. 1 trade deadline, reports FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (Twitter links). One member of the group unlikely to go anywhere is underachieving right-hander Chris Archer, whose team-friendly contract might be too difficult for the Rays to part with, per Rosenthal.
With Archer probably staying in a Rays uniform and top prospect Blake Snell seemingly a poor bet to go anywhere, that leaves Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly, Matt Moore as rotation members Tampa Bay could shop. Each is likely attainable if the right offer comes along, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reported Saturday afternoon.
Odorizzi, who has backed up a respectable ERA (3.91) with solid strikeout and walk ratios per nine innings (8.59 and 2.96, respectively) across 94 1/3 frames this year, has already drawn interest from the Marlins. In 468 2/3 big league innings dating back to 2012, Odorizzi has held his own – 3.80 ERA, 8.45 K/9, 2.84 BB/9 and a 10 percent infield fly rate – though his 34.5 percent grounder rate (39.2 percent this year) is well below average. The 26-year-old right-hander is playing this season on an ultra-cheap $520,700 salary and has three years of arbitration eligibility remaining.
Smyly, 27, has run up a sky-high strikeout rate for the second straight year (10.09), improved his walk rate from 2.7 to 2.24, and continued generating a large amount of infield pop-ups (13.5 percent). Nonetheless, the southpaw’s run prevention has taken a significant hit. Through his first 96 1/3 innings this season, Smyly has recorded a 5.33 ERA – which is more than two runs worse than the excellent 3.11 mark he put in 66 2/3 frames last year.
Notably, Smyly missed a large portion of 2015 with a torn labrum and opted against season-ending surgery in favor of rehabilitation through rest, which proved successful then. However, research done for MLBTR during the offseason by Bradley Woodrum and Tim Dierkes showed that Smyly remains at relatively high risk of eventually needing Tommy John surgery. That could hurt his value, then, even though he logged a 3.45 ERA, 8.51 K/9 and 2.54 BB/9 in 55 starts with the Tigers and Rays from 2012-15 and is on a palatable salary ($3.75MM) with two more arbitration trips on the docket.
Moore has mimicked Smyly in having trouble preventing runs (4.67 ERA ) despite amassing strikeouts (8.61 per nine) and limiting walks (2.62), though he’s coming off a terrific June in which he threw 38 2/3 frames of 3.72 ERA ball. The former top prospect was an eminently useful starter from 2012-13 before injury issues – including April 2014 Tommy John surgery – kept him sidelined for the vast majority of the previous two campaigns. Moore, who’s making $5MM this year, has three affordable club options of $7MM, $9MM and $10MM left on his deal before he’ll become a free agent at the end of the 2019 season. The Rangers are reportedly among the teams interested in acquiring the 27-year-old.
Given the youth and team control Odorizzi, Smyly and Moore offer, their presences on the block could hugely impact the trade deadline. Several playoff contenders (other than the aforementioned Marlins and Rangers) are likely to be on the hunt for starters, which should put each member of the trio in demand.