Tampa Bay Rays Rumors

Tampa Bay Rays trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

AL East Notes: Wieters, Rays, Yankees

The Silver Shield Foundation, a charity established by the late Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, will pay for the education of the two children of slain NYPD officer Rafael Ramos, reports Bill Madden and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News. The foundation was started by Steinbrenner and former Olympian Jim Fuchs 32 years ago and, among other services (per the foundation’s website), pays for the education of the children of all members of the Fire Department of the City of New York; Police Department of the City of New York; Port Authority of New York/New Jersey Police Department; New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut State Police; police departments of Nassau and Suffolk Counties; and all police departments in Connecticut who died in the line of duty, as well as 700 children who lost a parent on September 11, 2001. Ramos was killed yesterday with his partner Wenjian Liu (who didn’t have any children) by a lone gunman in Brooklyn.

Here’s the latest news and notes from the American League East:

  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman has taken some huge gambles with his offseason moves (getting younger and stockpiling power arms) which belie the organization’s long held win-now, World Series or bust philosophy, opines Madden in a separate article.
  • Scott Boras tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter) Orioles catcher Matt Wieters will be ready by Opening Day. Earlier today, Cafardo reported there is no urgency on either side in negotiating an extension.
  • The Rays‘ search for offense in the wake of the Wil Myers trade is limited to what remains of the outfield free agent market or obtaining a player whose team will eat almost all the salary on a bad contract, writes the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin. Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard, and B.J. Upton fit the latter category, according to Topkin.

Cafardo On Shields, Scherzer, Wieters, Tulowitzki

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe touches on Nathan Eovaldi, one of the newest members of the Yankees.  Marlins catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia feels that the young pitcher has only scratched the surface of what he can do.  “At the end of the year he figured out how to throw a new pitch that is really going to help him. He throws hard and all of his pitches are hard, so this new pitch will help that out because he’s got a fastball rotation with split action,” Salty said.  More from today’s column..

  • James Shields is asking for a contract close to the five years and $110MM remaining (if the option is picked up) on the Cole Hamels deal, one major league source who was privy to Shields’s demands told Cafardo.  The Giants and Red Sox are in the picture, and the Yankees may be another suitor.
  • Many baseball execs feel that Max Scherzer will end up back with the Tigers.  The executives Cafardo spoke with think that Scherzer will top Jon Lester‘s six-year, $155MM pact but fall well short of $200MM, unless option years are counted.
  • When it comes to Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, there seems no urgency on either side to visit a possible extension.  Wieters’s return should be huge for the Orioles, but agent Scott Boras will likely not consider anything until the end of the season.
  • Cafardo checked in with Mets officials regarding the recent Troy Tulowitzki rumors and none of them felt that there was anything to them.
  • Agent Alan Nero tells Cafardo that he is having a lot of dialogue with teams about Asdrubal Cabrera but nothing has come together just yet.  Cafardo suggests that Cabrera could take a one-year deal somewhere to re-establish his value.
  • Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin is the odd man out in San Diego with Matt Kemp, Wil Myers, and Justin Upton in the fold.  The Orioles, Mariners, and Rays could be trade candidates for Quentin, who hasn’t played 100 games since 2011.  He’d be a solid DH candidate and Seattle could also use him in right field from time to time.  Of course, with an $8MM salary in 2015 and a $10MM option in 2016 that comes with a $3MM buyout, the Padres will have to eat some money to move him.

McDaniel On International Bonus Pools

A number of teams are expected to break the bank on international talent next July, writes Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs.com. Due to international spending restrictions, teams that spend more than 15% above their allotted pool may not ink any international free agents for over $300,000 in the following two signing periods. However, there is growing consensus within the industry that an international draft will be implemented when baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement is re-visited after the 2016 season. If a draft is put in place, teams will have only two years to live with the current arrangement.

McDaniel’s sources have suggested that as many as 10 teams may blow past their limit when the next signing period begins on July 2. The Cubs, Blue Jays, and Phillies will “almost definitely” exceed their respective pools. As McDaniel notes, plans will likely be affected by verbal commitments as we get closer to July. Additionally, the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and Angels have greatly exceeded their budgets during the current signing period, meaning they will be penalized during the next two periods.

If there truly are only two more years before a draft is implemented, then teams have an interesting “strategic choice.” At least four clubs – possibly five pending the outcome of the Yoan Moncada bidding – will be handicapped. More will spend heavily next summer, making themselves ineligible for big signings in 2016. If enough teams are aggressive, it could be advantageous to wait until 2016 for a spending spree. McDaniel also points out that the penalized teams are mostly those who usually spend a lot on international talent.

Put it all together, and it’s increasingly clear that clubs are unconcerned about the international bonus pool. While small market clubs may be loathe to pay excessive taxes (100% on overages), those theoretically get passed onto the player via a lower signing bonus. In my opinion, if most of the big spenders are excluded from the marketplace in 2016, then we could see some nontraditional sources of big bonuses.



AL East Notes: Duquette, Hundley, Rays

Orioles executive Dan Duquette is a great fit to replace Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston, but if the Jays want him, they should be willing to pay a significant price, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (subscription required). The right executive can make a huge difference for a franchise, but Duquette is under contract with the Orioles through 2018, so if the Blue Jays want him, the Orioles should ask for top young players (as in one or more of Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Daniel Norris, Jeff Hoffman, Max Pentecost or Richard Urena) in return. Here’s more from the AL East.

  • The Orioles had hoped they could re-sign catcher Nick Hundley, but it appears he has found a two-year offer with another team, so he likely won’t be returning, MASNsports’ Roch Kubatko tweets. Hundley, 31, posted a .243/.273/.358 line in 233 plate appearances with the Padres and Orioles last season, but he has a solid defensive reputation. The O’s declined their $5MM option on Hundley in October.
  • After trading Wil Myers to San Diego, the Rays remain optimistic about contending in 2015, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. “While there’s been a lot of change, the talent level at the major-league level remains very high, and we should be a formidable club,” says president of baseball operations Matt Silverman. Silverman adds that although the Rays could continue making moves (Topkin mentions the possibility of a Ben Zobrist trade), they’re not likely to make “seismic changes.”

Padres Acquire Wil Myers In Three-Team Trade With Rays, Nats

FRIDAY: The trade is official, with all three teams announcing its completion as reported.

THURSDAY: The deal will likely be officially announced on Friday morning, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Tribune reports (via Twitter).

WEDNESDAY: The Padres, Rays, and Nationals have agreed to a much-anticipated three-team swap — pending physicals — that will deliver important pieces to and from each club, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. A rough structure of the deal seemed to have taken form in recent hours, and Bowden has reported its final contours in a series of tweets (links: 1, 2, 3, 4.) The deal is unlikely to be announced before Thursday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays

Outfielder Wil Myers will head to San Diego as the centerpiece of the trade, and indeed the entire pact will depend upon the health of his balky wrist, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports notes on Twitter. San Diego receives young hurlers Gerardo Reyes and Jose Castillo from Tampa as well, joined by veteran big league catcher Ryan Hanigan.

Heading to Tampa from San Diego are backstop Rene Rivera, righty Burch Smith, and first base prospect Jake Bauers. Much of Tampa’s haul, however, will come from another source, as the Nationals will send outfielder Steven Souza and young lefty Travis Ott to Tampa.

For the Nationals, their involvement in this complicated transaction nets them a pair of young players. Righty Joe Ross and shortstop Trea Turner (as a PTBNL) will each head from the Padres to D.C. by way of Tampa.

Unpacking this deal is not easy, but it certainly begins with Myers — not only the marquee piece of this trade, but also the key player in the deal that sent James Shields to the Royals two years ago. Since that time, Myers has had one year of immense promise and one injury-marred, unproductive season. There is risk, not least of which because Myers missed significant time with a wrist injury, but then again San Diego is adding a potentially premier hitter who only just turned 24 years of age and still has five years of control.

Myers will be expected to pair with Matt Kemp — if and when that deal is complete — to deliver a middle-of-the-order threat to what had been a punchless lineup. Both carry a broad spectrum of possible outcomes, which will if nothing else make San Diego a fascinating team to watch for the next several years. One wonders what the trade means for Seth Smith, who played well last year before signing an extension, but who took a step back in the season’s second half and no longer seems to have a place in the corner outfield.

San Diego will also roll some younger arms into a system that is now without a few of its more advanced pitching prospects in Smith and Ross. The right-handed Reyes, 21, spent last year working at the low-A level from the pen. He struck out 10.6 and walked 2.5 batters per nine, en route to a 4.09 ERA in 33 frames. Castillo, an 18-year-old lefty, signed to a $1.55MM bonus out of Venezuela and has spent each of the last two years with the Rays’ Rookie league affiliate, mostly as a reliever. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs recently gave an update on Castillo in his Rays prospect breakdown, noting that the projectable hurler has a big fastball and has returned to health after sitting out much of 2014 with a tender arm.

Then there is the swap of backstops. New Padres GM A.J. Preller has now moved both of last season’s primary catching options, and replaced them with a mix of the veteran Hanigan and, presumably, top prospect Austin Hedges. Hanigan, 34, came to Tampa last year in an even more confusing three-team swap, and the Rays promptly signed him to an extension. The Rays added him for his OBP skills and defensive chops, and he’ll bring the same out west. He’ll also carry $8MM in obligations over the next two years, including a buyout of a $3.75MM club option for 2017.

In Rivera, the Friars will lose and the Rays will add a 31-year-old journeyman who broke out last year in one of the most surprising, under-reported stories in the league. Rivera posted a .252/.319/.432 line — good for a 117 OPS+ at pitcher-friendly Petco Park — and swatted 11 home runs in 329 plate appearances. He also drew rave reviews for his overall defensive contribution, with Baseball Prospectus rating him among the game’s best behind the plate. Rivera will also be a good bit cheaper than Hanigan, as MLBTR/Matt Swartz project him to earn $1.3MM in his first run through arbitration.

In addition to making that switch behind the plate, Tampa will add a mix of younger players, among them two wild cards. Bauers is a 19-year-old, left-handed-hitting first baseman who has not yet tapped into his power in the low minors. The 19-year-old Ott was taken in the 25th round of the 2013 draft but has seemingly improved his stock since. A 6’4 lefty, Ott struggled upon being promoted to the Class A level, but apparently showed enough to draw Tampa’s interest.

The bulk of the return, however, comes with the effective swap of five years of Myers for 12 (or more) seasons of Smith and, in particular, Souza. The 24-year-old Smith struggled in a brief MLB debut in 2013, missing bats as well as spots (11.4 K/9 vs. 5.2 BB/9 in 36 1/3 frames). But he was excellent in 92 1/3 Triple-A frames that year, working to a 2.63 ERA with 9.9 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9. Unfortunately, after being hit hard upon opening 2014 back in the PCL, Smith was shut down with a forearm strain and has not thrown since. That, combined with pre-existing questions about whether he had the secondary pitches to stick in the rotation, reduce his value significantly.

The real prize for new president of baseball operations Matthew Silverman appears to be Souza, who will present a cheaper and more controllable, but somewhat older, replacement for Myers. Last year’s International League MVP put himself firmly back on the map with a huge .345/.427/.577 triple-slash with 18 home runs and 28 steals in 419 plate appearances, completing a quick ascent back up the prospect ladder after initially languishing in the Nats’ system. As Dave Cameron of Fangraphs notes, the athletic Souza actually projects to be Myers’ equal next year and in some ways probably has just as much upside. Of course, he has not shown that ceiling in the big leagues, as has Myers, but Souza is more controllable with just 72 days of MLB service to his name.

That brings us to the Nationals, who parted with Souza in large part because the team is locked in at the corner outfield for the next several years. In return, GM Mike Rizzo added a 21-year-old righty who was taken in the first round of the 2011 draft and has shown signs of reaching his potential. Ross (Tyson’s younger brother) currently sits at eighth on MLB.com’s list of the Padres’ top prospects, with the publication citing his strong mid-90s heater, good power slider, and still-developing change in his ranking. He’ll be expected to join a talented new wave of arms that may have some big shoes to fill if Jordan Zimmermann and/or Doug Fister are not retained for the long run.

But the true motivation for the Nationals’ involvement probably lies with the player to be named, which will reportedly become Turner once he is eligible to be traded. Taken 13th overall from N.C. State in last year’s draft, the 21-year-old has done nothing but improve his stock since. Over 321 plate appearances at the low-A and Class A levels last year, Turner slashed .323/.406/.448 with five home runs and 23 stolen bases. Of course, his college-polished bat will face bigger challenges as he moves up in the system, but he is said to be a good defender with outstanding speed. MLB.com has him at fifth amongst San Diego prospects, but he is especially important to the Nationals as they look to fill in younger options behind incumbent Ian Desmond, who is of course entering his final year of team control.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Rays Designate Brandon Gomes For Assignment

The Rays have designated right-hander Brandon Gomes for assignment and made the three-team trade sending Wil Myers to the Padres official, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The 30-year-old Gomes posted a 3.71 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 34 innings last season, though a 4.60 FIP indicates that he was a bit fortuitous to keep his ERA that low. Gomes has a lifetime 4.17 ERA in parts of four seasons with Tampa. He was originally acquired in the trade that sent Jason Bartlett to San Diego.


Rays Notes: Stadium, Longoria, Myers

The St. Petersburg City Council rejected an agreement that would’ve allowed the Rays to explore sites for a new stadium within the greater St. Petersburg area, Stephen Nohlgren, Charlie Frago and Kameel Stanley of the Tampa Bay Times write.  In a media release, Rays president Brian Auld said, “We are obviously disappointed.  Our goal was to begin a collaborative, exploratory process in our region to determine the best location for a next generation ballpark. The council has instead decided that the status quo is what is in the best interest of the citizens of St. Petersburg.”  Needless to say, this development will lead to renewed speculation about the Rays’ long-term future in the Tampa area, as owner Stuart Sternberg has threatened to sell the team rather than continue at Tropicana Field.

Here’s some more from the Rays…

  • There’s no evidence the Rays are considering trading Evan Longoria, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.  If Tampa was looking into a rebuild, it stands to reason that Longoria (by far the team’s highest-paid player) would be a trade chip.
  • From that same tweet, Heyman also notes that Wil Myers “rebuffed [an] overture” from the Rays about a long-term deal.  There were some whispers last spring that Tampa would look to extend Myers as the team has done with so many of its young stars.  Of course, Myers’ time as a Ray is almost up as the young outfielder is on the verge of being dealt to San Diego.
  • Even as far back as Myers’ Rookie of the Year season in 2013, the Rays had some doubts about whether the outfielder would become a consistent player, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes as part of his latest Insider-only column.  Given these doubts, the Myers trade makes a lot of sense for the Rays as a sell-high move, Olney notes.

Reactions To The Wil Myers Trade

Here’s a collection of early reactions to this afternoon’s massive Wil Myers trade between the Padres, Rays, and Nationals. The consensus so far seems to be that the Nationals have come out furthest ahead, thanks to the inclusion of shortstop Trea Turner as a player to be named from San Diego.

  • The trade is a risky one for A.J. Preller and the Padres, but the Padres need to take risks, Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan writes. The Padres don’t have a high payroll and have been stuck in a rut for the last four seasons, but Preller has decisively added talent to the team by engineering the Padres’ end of the Myers and Matt Kemp trades.
  • ESPN’s Keith Law (Insider-only) calls Myers a “tremendous buy-low opportunity” for San Diego but writes that the Nats “seemed to make out like bandits,” getting two strong prospects in Turner and Joe Ross in exchange for Steven Souza and Travis Ott. The deal is a puzzling one for the Rays, Law writes, wondering why they didn’t simply trade Myers for Turner and Ross.
  • Executives within the game also feel the Nationals came out ahead, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. “I think the Nats must have pics on TB and SD!!” says one executive. “They are the clear winner. Not even close.”
  • MLB.com’s Corey Brock quotes an NL scout on Turner, who says Turner clearly profiles as a big-league shortstop. “Turner for me was one of the easiest everyday SS grades I’ve ever written,” the scout says.
  • Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel profiles the prospects involved in the deal, though, and notes that the highest-profile ones — Souza, Turner and Ross — all generate varying reactions throughout the industry. McDaniel feels that Souza (a key to the deal for Tampa Bay) could turn out to be a bit like recently-traded outfielder Matt Joyce offensively.

Padres, Rays, Nationals Nearing Agreement On 3-Team Deal

Reports emerged yesterday that the Padres and Rays were discussing a deal that would send outfielder Wil Myers to San Diego. Subsequent reports greatly expanded the possibilities of that deal, including multi-team concepts, different packages from San Diego, and spin-off deals. If you would like to catch up on the earlier rumors, follow the page break link.

Various reports have indicated that a deal is close but that multiple different permutations are still in play. Here’s the latest, from this morning on:

  • Jim Bowden of ESPN.com reports on Twitter that the deal is done, while Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that it is nearing the finish line. No draft choices will be moved in the deal, says Sherman.
  • The Rays are down to two possible scenarios, and are waiting to hear whether the Nationals are in or out, Topkin tweets. Regardless, Tampa is set to move Myers, Hanigan, and two lower-level minor league players. On its end, San Diego would send Rivera, Smith, and Bauers, as well as Ross and Turner. It appears that Tampa would either keep the latter two players or flip them to D.C. for Souza and an A-ball lefty. (Twitter links.) Turner, of course, was taken 13th overall in last year’s draft and would therefore need to be included as a player to be named later.
  • Lefty Jose Castillo is one of the other players that would move from Tampa, ESPN.com’s Keith Law hears (Twitter link). Since signing to a $1.55MM bonus, the 18-year-old Venezuelan has spent each of the last two years with the Rays’ Rookie league affiliate, mostly as a reliever. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs recently gave an update on Castillo in his Rays prospect breakdown, noting that the projectable hurler has a big fastball and has returned to health after sitting out much of 2014 with a tender arm.
  • Another young lefty, Travis Ott, appears to be the final name in this potential scenario, according to a report from Rosenthal (Twitter links). Rosenthal cautions that this is not a final agreement, but the scenario a source outlined for him, and adds that competitive balance picks could also be a component. (The Padres have the fifth competitive balance Round A choice, which is currently the 41st overall choice.)

Earlier Updates

  • The Rays are interested in San Diego’s first-round pick from last year, shortstop Trea Turner, according to Heyman (Twitter link). It is not clear that the young N.C. State product is in play, however, Heyman adds.
  • Another element of the deal being discussed is a swap of catchers Ryan Hanigan and Rene Rivera, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • The primary deal under contemplation includes 19-year-old first baseman Jake Bauers, right-handed pitching prospect Joe Ross, the fellow young righty Burch Smith, and two other players from San Diego’s side, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com tweets. A draft comp pick may also be involved in the swap, but prospects Matt Wisler and Austin Hedges are not believed to be, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post indicates in a tweet that the Nationals and Rays have an agreement in place involving outfielder Steven Souza in the event that the primary deal is consummated. He says that Tampa “will spin players” to D.C. if the Myers trade goes down. Earlier reports from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter) and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) connected the teams on that player, after Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweeted that the Nats had become involved.
  • Ben Zobrist is not expected to be part of the potential deal between the Nationals and Rays, Sherman tweets. Indeed, neither Zobrist nor Evan Longoria are involved in any of the scenarios under consideration, Topkin tweets.

(more…)


Angels, Rays Swap Kevin Jepsen, Matt Joyce

The Angels have sent reliever Kevin Jepsen to the Rays in exchange for outfielder Matt Joyce, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. The teams have already announced the move, making it official.

In adding Joyce, 30, the Halos have picked up a left-handed bat that has steadily delivered above-average offensive production. While Joyce’s offensive lines over the last three years (.243/.339/.410) have fallen well shy of the two that came before it (.265/.351/.478), he nevertheless is strong against righties.

It must be noted, however, that the Rays have done an excellent job of drastically limiting Joyce’s exposure to same-handed pitching, against whom he owns a lifetime .573 OPS. Joyce is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility, with MLBTR and Matt Swartz projecting a $4.9MM salary. For Los Angeles, he will presumably slot in both in the outfield and at DH, perhaps sharing time with the right-handed-hitting C.J. Cron.

As for the 30-year-old Jepsen, he bolsters the back of a pen that just learned it will be without Jake McGee for at least some time to start the season, with elbow surgery shelving the player who ended last year as the team’s closer. Jepsen tossed 65 innings of 2.63 ERA ball last year with 10.4 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9, by far his most productive season as a pro. His projected arbitration salary is $2.6MM, offering Tampa some savings against the Joyce contract, and he will be controllable for an additional year.