Rivals are no doubt watching to see how the Rays decide to approach the offseason, as the team’s stable of intriguing trade candidates could change the market quite a bit. The organization is still at “an info-gathering stage,” GM Erik Neander tells Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. It seems, though, that there’s at least some consideration of dealing some veteran assets. Topkin analyzes the possibility of a full-throated rebuild, something that Neander acknowledges having considered. Of course, the young GM also says he doesn’t think a focus on the future “necessarily always has to come from tearing an organization down to the studs and then building it up.” Indeed, he argues that the Rays have managed to amass young talent while remaining competitive, even if the results haven’t quite been there of late.
More from Tampa Bay and the rest of the AL East:
- Also tackling the Rays situation were Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link) and Jon Heyman of Fan Rag. Rosenthal calls on Tampa Bay to “deconstruct,” perhaps to the point of marketing all of its best MLB talent, while Heyman says that Tampa Bay is listening to interest from other organizations on its top assets. Both pieces note that third baseman Evan Longoria remains just shy of ten-and-five rights, meaning he can’t block a trade, though Rosenthal also suggests he wouldn’t stand in the way of a move if the club decides not to compete. While Longoria clearly isn’t the team’s most valuable asset — that’d be righty Chris Archer — and is coming off of his worst-ever offensive campaign, the 32-year-old would still surely draw real interest from organizations in need of a third baseman.
- Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski covered a host of topics in his chat with reporters yesterday. As Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reports, some of the most interesting comments covered the team’s search for a “proven bat.” Most notably, Dombrowski suggested that there are limits to the team’s willingness to pursue trade avenues, with the Sox uninterested in dealing away current MLB assets and cognizant of the need to “be careful” of further depleting their stock of prospects. With Boston having dipped below the luxury tax line last year, perhaps it’s now more appealing to take on salary via free agency than to give value in trade. Meanwhile, Dombrowski addressed the question of how the team will help cover for Dustin Pedroia early in the season. He hinted that a significant acquisition might not be necessary, highlighting Marco Hernandez as a strong internal candidate to bridge the gap.
- One key need for the Blue Jays is to find a quality middle infielder to supplement the team’s injury-prone duo of Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis, as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca writes. The team is looking for a player that is capable of handling more-or-less full-time duties, even if that may not ultimately be required. “Our priority is complementing our infield in some way with versatility, someone that can not just play when needed, but someone who can potentially get 600 plate appearances across our infield in some form or fashion,” GM Ross Atkins explains, while also noting that such a player could supplement the outfield mix as well. As Ben Nicholson-Smith further explores, finding that sort of player could well come at a cost. Several rival general managers suggested that they won’t easily part with assets that could meet Toronto’s specifications. As Nicholson-Smith tweets, pitching depth remains on the team’s wish list, too, though it may not be as critical as adding the above-described player and filling at least one outfield vacancy.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman discussed his approach to the offseason with reporters including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (Twitter links). “We have a lot of good players signed,” he said, “so we’re not in a situation where we have to be pressured into moving fast on anything.” Indeed, with quality internal options at most every spot on the roster, New York can seemingly stand to be opportunistic, particularly given that the team is set to dispense its open payroll space judiciously. Cashman also noted that he sees Aaron Hicks as an everyday player. That stance, along with the payroll considerations, seemingly makes it all the more likely that the Yanks will see if they can find a taker for Jacoby Ellsbury and some of his remaining salary obligations.
- The Orioles, of course, face a variety of needs that will be tough to fill with somewhat limited payroll availability. Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun provides a look at some veteran international targets that could be on the O’s radar. Signing foreign players to smaller, MLB deals has certainly been a notable Baltimore strategy in the past, and Meoli says the organization is “looking strongly” at doing so yet again.