The Rays’ one-year deal with Colby Rasmus is expected to be announced either today or tomorrow, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times in his latest column. As he notes, the Rays will need to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. While there are some straightforward avenues to doing so — righties Ryan Garton and Eddie Gamboa are possible casualties, as is recently claimed outfielder Jason Coats — Topkin adds that trading right-hander Erasmo Ramirez also represents a potential means of clearing a 40-man spot for Rasmus.
The 26-year-old Ramirez has a 3.76 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9 in 254 innings with Tampa Bay over the past two seasons and agreed to a $3.125MM salary to avoid arbitration earlier this winter. He’s controlled through 2019 via arbitration. Ramirez may not be a premium trade chip, but three years of control over someone that could either serve as a multi-inning reliever or a back-end option in the rotation certainly carries some value in a thin market for arms. The pitching-rich Rays have the depth to part with Ramirez, should an offer to their liking materialize.
The column is stuffed with rumors and informed speculation regarding the Rays’ roster and is well worth a full look, but here are a couple of other highlights…
- With Brad Miller likely to move to second base, the Rays are poised to pounce on an over-saturated market for first basemen. A right-handed hitter is most likely, and Topkin again connects the Rays to slugger Chris Carter. Mike Napoli will still probably receive a more lucrative contract than the Rays care to offer, he notes. Topkin also lists one intriguing trade option: Angels slugger C.J. Cron. The 27-year-old Cron looks like he’ll lose some playing time with the Halos to the newly signed Luis Valbuena, and Cron would give the Rays an affordable option that’s controlled through 2020. Notably, Topkin adds that the Rays have likely checked in on virtually every available option, and he doesn’t portray a Cron trade as a strong possibility but rather as one of many options.
- The Rays are “likely” to add a veteran reliever as well, per Topkin. He goes on to note that out-bidding others on a top remaining option seems unlikely but second-tier names like Fernando Salas, Joe Smith, Tom Wilhelmsen and former Ray J.P. Howell make sense in St. Petersburg.
- As it stands, the Rays currently project to have Alex Colome, Brad Boxberger, Danny Farquhar, Shawn Tolleson and Ramirez in their ’pen as right-handers alongside lefties Xavier Cedeno and Enny Romero. Rule 5 pick Kevin Gadea, too, is in the mix for a spot in the relief corps depending on his spring performance. From my vantage point, the Rays seem fairly well-stocked in terms of right-handed relief (barring a trade of Ramirez), but an upgrade over Romero as the team’s second lefty would be beneficial. Romero struggled to a 5.91 ERA while displaying significant control issues and a susceptibility to home runs last season. The only lefty reliever on the 40-man roster outside of Cedeno and Romero is 21-year-old Jose Alvarado, who hasn’t pitched above Class-A Advanced. Dana Eveland and Justin Marks will both be in camp as non-roster invitees.