At 49-43, a half-game up on the Yankees for the American League’s top wild-card spot and two games above the sixth-place Twins, the Rays are setting up as deadline buyers. Acquiring bullpen help by July 31 seems to be a priority for Tampa Bay, whose relievers rank 19th in the majors in fWAR (1.5) and 20th in ERA (4.37). With Alex Colome, Brad Boxberger, Chase Whitley, Tommy Hunter and Erasmo Ramirez, the majority of the Rays’ bullpen is in good shape, though they’ve struggled to find reliable options to fill out the group. Jumbo Diaz, Danny Farquhar and Austin Pruitt have combined for 93 1/3 innings among them, but no one from that trio has prevented runs at a particularly appealing clip this year.
The 28-year-old Strickland has limited damage throughout his career, evidenced by a 2.48 ERA over 152 1/3 innings, and has pitched to a sparkling 1.91 ERA across 33 frames this season. Additionally, Strickland’s 9.82 K/9 and 19.4 percent infield fly rate make him look like a shutdown option. However, there are some troubling signs – including a dip in velocity and a skyrocketing BB/9 that has climbed to 5.18 after sitting at 1.75 in 2015, Strickland’s first full season, and 2.8 last year.
While Strickland does come with concerns, his track record and team control suggest he’d warrant a solid haul in a trade. Strickland is making a near-minimum salary this season and brings four years of arbitration eligibility to the table. It’s unclear, then, how open the Giants are to moving him, especially considering they’re aiming to put a rough 2017 behind them next year and return to contention. If the Giants do make any deals in the coming weeks, they’d like to acquire major league-ready talent in return, notes Haft.