In a column from Rays beat writer Marc Topkin, general manager Erik Neander provided several quotes that shed light on how Tampa Bay will approach the upcoming trade deadline (link). Most notably, Neander indicated the club will be looking at potential upgrades to both its offense and relief corps, and that they will be open to dealing for “rental” acquisitions. Specifically, Neander said that the Rays have the flexibility to make “more of a baseball decision than a pure budget constraint type of decision” in regard to potential upgrades.
Tampa Bay currently sits just one game out of the last AL Wild Card spot and could be well-poised to make a move given the treasure trove of prospects that the team possesses (the club currently boasts 10 prospects included on various top 100 lists from around the game). That the notoriously stingy club–which this year rolled out a 30th-ranked payroll–would be willing to open the coffers for a player on an expiring contract is an eyebrow-raising development.
Tampa Bay has managed a 56-44 record despite a middling offense–a feat aided in large part by a stellar 3.45 team ERA. Offensively, Neander and senior VP Chaim Bloom could look to upgrade at the second base position, where they’ve received a 49 wRC+ from 2018 linchpin Joey Wendle. And despite the bullpen’s solid cumulative performance, it stands to reason that most teams within earshot of contention look for bullpen help as the trade deadline nears–as Topkin points out, the club could benefit from the acquisition of a “full-inning” lefty, in part to help lighten the load of struggling rookie southpaw Colin Poche.