Combining a couple of reports this morning, it appears that the Devil Rays may have some interest in acquiring ousted Houston closer Brad Lidge.
Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle has a friend covering an AL East team reporting that his team is talking to Tim Purpura about Lidge. Naturally one might think the Red Sox would be interested in Lidge for a setup role, as they’ve talked to the Astros about him in the past.
However, Jose’s friend may be Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, who covers the Devil Rays. Topkin reports that the Rays would make a good match with possible trading chips like Rocco Baldelli, Jason Hammel, Andy Sonnanstine, J.P. Howell, and Shawn Riggans. Topkin thinks the presence of former Astros GM Gerry Hunsicker and the previous Aubrey Huff deal could inhibit a Lidge deal now. I imagine the Astros would pounce on a Baldelli for Lidge trade, but I don’t see that happening. The Astros are fairly well set in the outfield.
Drays Bay throws out Joel Guzman as a possibility, and notes that current Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey previously worked for the Astros. Would the Rays really want to take on Lidge’s $5.35MM and give up a solid player for him? This club is not expected to win this year, though Lidge will not become a free agent until after the 2008 season.
The Phillies certainly need some bullpen help, though I’m not sure that Lidge would change things. Scott Lauber of the Wilmington News Journal suggests the possibility, but only as speculation.
It should be noted that de Jesus Ortiz spoke to Purpura, and the GM’s comments do not seem to indicate a trade anytime soon.