The Rangers and Rays have had talks about a trade that would sent right-hander Jake Odorizzi from Tampa Bay to Texas in exchange for a bat, per Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link). The two sides aren’t close to a deal but have continued their talks, per Bowden, who notes that the Rays are unsurprisingly interested in the likes of Jurickson Profar, Joey Gallo and Lewis Brinson.
It’s not clear from the report what exactly the Rangers would be willing to surrender in order to pluck Odorizzi from the Rays, but the 26-year-old figures to come with a fairly substantial asking price. Odorizzi is earning just over the league minimum this season as he won’t qualify for arbitration until the upcoming offseason. He’s controllable through the 2019 campaign and has been a solid contributor to the Rays since being acquired in the James Shields/Wade Davis/Wil Myers blockbuster (although, in retrospect, Odorizzi deserves fairly lofty billing when describing that deal as well).
Over the past two and a half seasons with the Rays, Odorizzi has turned in 461 1/3 innings of 3.78 ERA ball, averaging 8.5 strikeouts and 2.8 walks per nine innings pitched. While he’s certainly a fly-ball pitcher, his ground-ball rate has increased significantly over the life of his time with the Rays, and the uptick in grounders hasn’t come at the expense of his ability to miss bats. Odorizzi is throwing a career-high number of two-seam fastballs (25.3 percent, per PITCHf/x), and the resulting 39.2 percent ground-ball rate is a career best.
Injuries throughout the Texas rotation have led the club to explore multiple avenues to bolster its rotation. The Rangers are said to be interested on Odorizzi’s own teammate, Matt Moore, and the team was also connected to Twins right-hander Ervin Santana over the weekend. Currently, the Rangers are without Colby Lewis through late August, and Derek Holland is slated to be on the disabled list for a yet-undetermined duration. Yu Darvish, too, is on the shelf, and while he’s set to return in the near future, it’s tough to be 100 percent confident in the durability of a pitcher that had Tommy John surgery in 2015 and quickly returned to the DL with shoulder discomfort.
The Rays, currently 14 games below .500 and in last place in the American League East, have reportedly considered parting with some of their starting pitchers, with Odorizzi, Moore, Drew Smyly and Erasmo Ramirez among the most logical pieces to be dealt. Chris Archer figures to draw plenty of interest as well, though it’s hard to see Tampa Bay selling low on its ace when he has so much club control remaining, and top prospect Blake Snell isn’t likely to be going anywhere just months after his big league debut. Alex Cobb could potentially be a trade candidate in August once he’s back from Tommy John surgery, though the offseason strikes me as a better time to move him, as he won’t have much time to reestablish himself prior to Aug. 31.