With Drew Smyly (shoulder) and Alex Colome (pneumonia) currently out, Rays president of baseball operations Matt Silverman says the team will consider both internal and external options to address its rotation, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes (Twitter links). “The wheels are spinning and we’re working on contingencies already,” says Silverman.
As Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune tweets, that will likely mean that if the Rays do make a move, it will be to address their rotation at Triple-A Durham, since the organization will lean on pitchers who had been projected to start the season there to instead begin the year in the big leagues. For example, pitchers like Nate Karns or Burch Smith who might have originally started the year in Durham could now begin the year in Tampa Bay, with the Rays making a minor-league signing or a minor trade at some point in Spring Training to fill their spots at the Triple-A level.
Looking more for minor-league depth seems like a sensible solution. There’s very little left on the free-agent market (with Randy Wolf as the only established starter remaining). And while pitchers like Karns and Smith are inexperienced (and any guess about Smith’s 2015 performance would be very speculative, given his forearm issues last year), they project as reasonable rotation patches. Meanwhile, the Rays figure to get Smyly and Colome back at some point, as well as Matt Moore later in the season, so any new acquisition might become superfluous within a couple months. They could, instead, find a pitcher or two near the end of Spring Training, perhaps a veteran with an out clause in his contract with the team he’s in camp with now.