The Rays’ trade discussions about left-handed relief ace Jake McGee have intensified over the past 24 to 48 hours, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). McGee and teammate Brad Boxberger have drawn significant trade interest, and several have suggested that one of the two is likely to be moved. McGee makes a bit more sense as a trade candidate, given MLBTR’s $4.7MM salary projection (Boxberger is not yet arbitration eligible) and the fact that he has only two years of club control remaining to Boxberger’s four.
Morosi tweets that the Dodgers — who are reportedly moving on from their pursuit of Aroldis Chapman in light of his domestic violence allegations — make sense as a landing spot, given president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman’s familiarity with McGee (Friedman was formerly the Rays’ GM). The Astros have been linked to Tampa Bay’s relievers as well, though they’ve reportedly agreed to a deal to acquire Ken Giles from Philadelphia, so perhaps they’re no longer in the market for top-tier relievers. The Twins are also known to be looking for left-handed relief help, and indications late in this week’s Winter Meetings were that Minnesota isn’t likely to make a play for top-of-the-market free agent lefties.
McGee, who will pitch the bulk of next season at age 29, missed the beginning of the 2015 campaign recovering from offseason surgery on his left elbow and was sidelined again in September by a torn meniscus. He was brilliant as ever when healthy enough to take to the mound, though, firing 37 1/3 innings of 2.41 ERA ball with 11.6 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and a 38.9 percent ground-ball rate. He has a collective 2.07 ERA with 138 strikeouts against just 22 unintentional walks over the past two seasons — a span of 108 2/3 innings — and averaged better than 96 mph on his fastball from 2013-14 (94.5 mph in 2015). He’d be a boost to any club’s bullpen and should fetch the Rays a considerable return if a trade is ultimately agreed upon.