For the first time in several years, the Rays look to have the bulk of next season’s core already in place before the offseason begins, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. And while it’s obvious that nothing can ever be firmly ruled out with the Rays as pertains to the trade market, owner Stuart Sternberg tells Topkin that he believes much of the current talent will be in place for the foreseeable future. “It looks like a chunk of the infield is there,” says Sternberg. “It looks like the outfield is there. … If (Michael Perez) continues to show what he’s shown to this point, you’ve got your catchers in place.”
The Rays have seen well-regarded prospects like Jake Bauers and Willy Adames rise to the Majors this season, while they’ve added Tommy Pham, Austin Meadows and Christian Arroyo, among others, to the fold via the trade market over the past year. Sternberg notes that there’s some uncertainty on the pitching staff, at least in terms of the roles of individual pitchers, but he notes that the Rays have no intention of deviating from their experimental “opener” role and the blurring of the lines between starters and relievers. To the contrary — Sternberg believes that several other teams will adopt the strategy next season.
Here’s more from the AL East…
- Barring a significant turnaround, Drew Pomeranz’s disastrous season will likely leave him on the outside looking in when the postseason arrives, writes Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston. But the 29-year-old lefty isn’t blaming his struggles on poor health in spite of some notably diminished fastball velocity (as pointed out by Drellich). Rather, Pomeranz feels the source of his struggles is “clear-cut,” explaining to Drellich that he’s worked with Red Sox VP of pitching development Brian Bannister and determined that his release point is “short of what it’s been the last two years.” That may seem an overly simplistic explanation for a pitcher with a 6.34 ERA on the season, and after last night’s poor relief outing it’s clear that even if Pomeranz is aware of the issue, he’s still been unable to correct the flaw on a consistent basis. The impending free agent will have just under seven weeks to get back on track in an effort to not only improve his chances of making the postseason roster but also to salvage some of his free-agent stock in an otherwise nightmarish season.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com runs through a number of topics still facing the Orioles as they enter the next phase of their rebuild. Notably, Kubatko writes that the O’s don’t view righty Mychal Givens as “untouchable” in trade talks — a departure from their previously reported line of thinking — though they’re still not keen on dealing the power-armed 28-year-old, who can be controlled through 2021. Givens’ 4.73 ERA through 59 innings isn’t much to look at, but fielding-independent metrics give him a more favorable review, and he’s averaging nearly 10 punchouts per nine innings. Kubatko also examines what could be an open competition for shortstop in 2019 and beyond, the team’s outfield mix moving forward and Austin Wynns’ potentially rising stock.
- Curtis Granderson tells Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet that clearing revocable trade waivers — as he reportedly did earlier this week — doesn’t mean much “except that there are possibilities,” all of which are out of his control. Nicholson-Smith speculates that the Indians could look into a Granderson pickup now that July acquisition Leonys Martin is sidelined with no timetable for a return. Granderson has a superlative clubhouse reputation, and Blue Jays manager John Gibbons tells Nicholson-Smith that “everything is true, and maybe more” regarding the veteran outfielder’s impact in that regard. Granderson, who clubbed his 10th career grand slam last night, is hitting .242/.339/.436 with 11 homers, 16 doubles and a triple against right-handed pitching in 2018. The return in a trade would be modest, at best, but he’d be a nice bench option for a contending club.