- The Cardinals were linked to Rays closer Alex Colome in trade rumors earlier this winter, though two sources tell Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the team’s interest in Colome was “overstated.” Chris Archer seems to be the Cards’ top target in regards to trade talks with the Rays.
- Evan Longoria shared some interesting details about his trade to the Giants in an appearance on the MLB Network on Friday (as detailed by MLB.com’s Daniel Kramer). Though Longoria didn’t have any leverage in the form of no-trade protection or 10-and-5 rights, he said he “kind of gave them [the Rays] a short list of teams that I thought would be a good fit for me,” specifically teams that “were going to be committed to winning, year-in and year-out.” It isn’t known how much, if at all, Longoria’s list factored into Tampa’s decision-making, though the Giants were one of the teams included. The Cardinals, another club linked to Longoria in trade rumors, were also on the third baseman’s list. Longoria said he felt a trade was coming after a talk with Rays GM Erik Neander two weeks before the Giants deal was completed.
- In another tweet, Goold relays that the Cardinals turned their attention to Rays righty Chris Archer and third baseman Evan Longoria after acquiring outfielder Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins last month. The talks between the two sides “weren’t fruitful,” Goold writes. Longoria is now out of play, having gone to the Giants in a late-December deal, though Archer remains one of the Rays’ prime trade candidates.
We’ve covered a whole lot of arbitration deals today, many of them reached before today’s deadline to exchange filing figures. Some other agreements have come together after team and player submitted their numbers. It’s still possible, of course, that these situations will be resolved before an arbitration hearing becomes necessary. (At this point, we seem to lack full clarity on teams’ approaches to negotiations after the filing deadline. And most organizations make exceptions for multi-year deals even if they have a file-and-trial stance.)
Some situations could even be dealt with in short order. As things stand, though, these unresolved arbitration cases could turn into significant hearings. (As always, MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration projections can be found here; you will also want to reference MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration tracker.)
- Mookie Betts, Red Sox: expected to go to hearing, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe; Betts filed at $10.5MM, Boston countered at $7.5MM (per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag, via Twitter)
- George Springer, Astros: did not settle, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter); Springer filed at $10.5MM, Houston countered at $8.5MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Ken Giles, Astros: did not settle, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter); Giles filed at $4.6MM, Houston countered at $4.2MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Collin McHugh, Astros: did not settle, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter); McHugh filed at $5.0MM, Houston countered at $4.55MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Jonathan Schoop, Orioles: Schoop filed at $9MM, Baltimore countered at $7.5MM (per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, via Twitter)
- Kevin Gausman, Orioles: Gausman filed at $6.225MM, Baltimore countered at $5.3MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays: Stroman filed at $6.9MM, Toronto countered at $6.5MM (per Nightengale, via Twitter)
- Roberto Osuna, Blue Jays: Osuna filed at $5.8MM, Toronto countered at $5.3MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Jose Iglesias, Tigers: Iglesias filed at $6.8MM, Detroit countered at $5.6MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Avisail Garcia, White Sox: Garcia filed at $6.7MM, Chicago countered at $5.85MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Trevor Bauer, Indians: Bauer filed at $6.525MM, Cleveland countered at $5.3MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Jake Odorizzi, Rays: Odorizzi filed at $6.3MM, Tampa Bay countered at $6.05MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Adeiny Hechavarria, Rays: Hechavarria filed at $5.9MM, Tampa Bay countered at $5.35MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Scooter Gennett, Reds: expected to go to hearing, per Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer; Gennett filed at $5.7MM, Cincinnati countered at $5.1MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Eugenio Suarez, Reds: expected to go to hearing, per Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer; Suarez filed at $4.2MM, Cincinnati countered at $3.75MM (per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, via Twitter)
- Shelby Miller, Diamondbacks: Miller filed at $4.9MM, Arizona countered $4.7MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Kyle Gibson, Twins: Gibson filed at $4.55MM, Minnesota countered at $4.2MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- J.T. Realmuto, Marlins: have not agreed to terms, per team announcement; Realmuto filed at $3.5MM, Miami countered at 2.9MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Dan Straily, Marlins: have not agreed to terms, per team announcement; Straily filed at $3.55MM, Miami countered at $3.37MM (per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, via Twitter)
- Justin Bour, Marlins: have not agreed to terms, per team announcement; Bour filed at $3.4MM, Miami countered at $3MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Brandon Maurer, Royals: have hit stalemate, per Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com (via Twitter); Maurer filed at $3.5MM, Kansas City countered at $2.95MM (per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, via Twitter)
- Felipe Rivero, Pirates: Rivero filed at $2.9MM, Pittsburgh countered at $2.4MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Kendall Graveman, Athletics: Graveman filed at $2.6MM, Oakland countered at $2.36MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Justin Grimm, Cubs: Grimm filed at $2.475MM, Chicago countered at $2.2MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Mike Foltynewicz, Braves: Foltynewicz filed at $2.3MM, Atlanta countered at $2.2MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Zack Wheeler, Mets: Wheeler filed at $1.9MM, New York countered at $1.5MM (per Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, via Twitter)
- Other tendered players who have not yet reportedly agreed to terms: Yolmer Sanchez, White Sox; Brad Hand, Padres
The deadline for MLB teams to exchange salary arbitration figures with their arbitration-eligible players is today at 1pm ET. As such, there will be a veritable flood of arb agreements piling up in the next few hours — especially in light of a more universal approach to the “file and trial” method for teams. (That is to say, those teams will no longer negotiate one-year deals after arb figures are exchanged and will instead head to a hearing with those players, barring an agreemenr on a multi-year deal.)
Note that you can keep an eye on all of today’s deals using MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker, which can be filtered to show only the results of the team you follow and is also sortable by service time and dollar value of the agreement. All projections that are referenced come from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s annual compilation of projected arbitration salarie
American League West
- The Astros and Evan Gattis agreed to a $6.7MM deal for 2018, per FanRag’s Robert Murray (Twitter link). A free agent next season, Gattis lands within $100K of his $6.6MM projection. The club also has deals (for values unknown) with starters Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr., and Brad Peacock, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
- The Rangers agreed to a $1.05MM deal with infielder Jurickson Profar, tweets Murray. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram, meanwhile, tweets that lefty Jake Diekman landed a $2.7125MM deal and righty Keone Kela will earn $1.2MM. Profar had been projected at $1.1MM and is controllable another three seasons. Diekman, a free agent next winter, was projected at $2.8MM. And Kela, still controlled for three more years, matched his $1.2MM projection on the dot.
- The Athletics and closer Blake Treinen agreed to a $2.15MM deal for next year, tweets Murray. The A’s can control Treinen for another three years. He was projected at $2.3MM. Shortstop Marcus Semien has settled for $3.125MM, Heyman tweets; his $3.2MM projection was nearly spot-on. Oakland has announced that it has avoided arbitration with Liam Hendriks and Josh Phegley as well, but their salaries have yet to be reported.
- The Angels have a one-year, $7.3MM agreement in place with right-hander Garrett Richards, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). Richards, a free agent next offseason, tops his $7MM projection by a margin of $300K. The Halos have also avoided arb with first baseman C.J. Cron ($2.3MM) and left-hander Tyler Skaggs ($1.875MM), tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Cron’s total falls a ways shy of his $2.8MM projection, while Skaggs comes in just $25K south of his $1.9MM projection. Both are controllable through the 2020 season. Lastly, Murray tweets that Matt Shoemaker agreed to a $4.125MM deal. He’s controlled through 2020 and projected at $4.4MM. Fletcher also tweets that the club has agreed with righty J.C. Ramirez ($1.9MM salary vs. $2.6MM projection) and lefty Jose Alvarez ($1.05MM salary vs. $1.1MM projection). Finally, righty Cam Bedrosian has agreed at $1.1MM, Flecher tweets, which represents a payday close to his projection of $1.2MM.
- Left-hander James Paxton will earn $4.9MM with the Mariners in 2018, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Murray tweets that the Mariners and David Phelps agreed to a $5.55MM deal. Paxton, controlled through 2020, projected to earn $5.6MM, while Phelps was pegged at $5.8MM. He’s a free agent next winter. Righty Erasmo Ramirez took a $4.2MM deal, MLB.com’s Greg Johns reports. That’s half a million shy of what the model suggested. Fellow right-hander Nick Vincent also has an agreement, but the terms aren’t yet known.
American League Central
- New lefty Luis Avilan has agreed to a $2.45MM deal with the White Sox, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reports via Twitter. The recent trade acquisition came with a projected $2.3MM price tag. Fellow southpaw Carlos Rodon will receive $2.3MM, a bit of a bump over the $2MM he projected to receive. Also, utilityman Leury Garcia gets $1.175MM, which is just $25K short of his projected value.
- The Royals and righty Nate Karns agreed to a $1.375MM deal for 2018, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports (on Twitter). That lands within $25K of his $1.4MM projection for the coming season. Kansas City controls Karns through 2020. Meanwhile, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports (via Twitter) that Kelvin Herrera will earn $7.9375MM in 2018, landing a bit shy of his $8.3MM projection. Herrera is a free agent next winter.
- The Indians have a $5MM agreement with righty Danny Salazar, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. He had projected to earn just $200K more, this falls right in line with expectations. Cleveland also agreed with Lonnie Chisenhall on a $5.5875MM deal, tweets Nightengale. The third baseman-turned-outfielder, who was projected to earn $5.8MM, will be a free agent following the 2018 season.
- Trevor May has a $650K agreement with the Twins for the 2018 season, according to Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. May, who missed the entire season due to Tommy John surgery (and did some writing for MLBTR during his rehab process), had been projected at $600K. The Twins also agreed to a $1MM deal with infielder Ehire Adrianza, per La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune. Meanwhile, righty Ryan Pressly has agreed to a $1.6MM deal, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Both deals are identical matches with their projections. Adrianza has three years of team control remaining, while Pressly has two. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets that outfielder Robbie Grossman settled at $2MM, leaving him $400K shy of his projection. Grossman is controlled for another three seasons.
- Tigers third baseman/outfielder Nick Castellanos will earn $6.05MM, per Heyman (via Twitter). He had projected at a much heftier $7.6MM in his second-to-last season of arb eligibility. MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports (Twitter links) that the Tigers and right-handed reliever Alex Wilson settled at $1.925MM, while fellow righty Shane Greene will earn $1.95MM. Wilson was projected to earn $2.1MM, while Greene was at $1.7MM. Wilson is controlled through 2019, while Greene is under control through 2020.
American League East
- The Yankees have knocked out some of their biggest arb cases, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter links). Shortstop Didi Gregorius receives $8.25MM and righty Sonny Gray checks in at $6.5MM. The former had projected to earn $9.0MM while the algorithm was just $100K high on the latter.Backstop Austin Romine will earn $1.1MM, Heyman also tweets, which is also $100K below the projection. Righty Adam Warren and the Yankees have a $3.315MM deal, per Murray (Twitter link). This is Warren’s final season of eligibility before hitting the open market next winter. He’d been projected at $3.1MM. Meanwhile, fellow right-hander Dellin Betances has agreed to a $5.1MM deal, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter). That’s just $100K more than Betances had sought last year, when he took his case to a hearing that he ultimately lost. But it’s quite a bit more than the $4.4MM he projected to receive after a subpar season in which he played at a $3MM salary.
- The Red Sox have agreed to pay $8.5MM to southpaw Drew Pomeranz, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). That’s short of the $9.1MM that had been projected after Pomeranz turned in a productive 2017 season. Boston and Jackie Bradley Jr. settled at $6.1MM, tweets Murray. That’s a bit north of the $5.9MM at which he’d been projected for the upcoming season. Bradley Jr., a Super Two player, has another three seasons of club control remaining. Nightengale tweets that righty Joe Kelly ($3.6MM projection) agreed to a $3.825MM deal. He’ll be a free agent next winter. Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez ($2.375MM salary vs. $2.7MM projection) and righty Brandon Workman ($835K salary vs. $900K projection) are two other Sox hurlers that have agreed to terms, Speier reports (Twitter links). On the position player side, catcher Sandy Leon falls a bit under his projection $1.95MM (via Speier, on Twitter) while utilityman Brock Holt just beats expectations at $2.225MM (per ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, on Twitter). The team also agreed with shortstop Xander Bogaerts for $7.05MM, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston tweets, which comes in a bit shy of his $7.6MM projection. Boston also announced agreement with backstop Christian Vazquez, who’ll earn $1.425MM, per MLB.com’s Ian Browne (via Twitter). That’s just under the projection of $1.5MM.
- The Blue Jays and righty Aaron Sanchez agreed to a $2.7MM deal for 2018, according to Nightengale (Twitter link). That crushes his $1.9MM projection, which was likely suppressed due Sanchez’s lack of innings (just 36) in 2017. He’s under Jays control through 2020. Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, meanwhile, tweets that second baseman Devon Travis will make $1.45MM next year, falling a bit shy of his $1.7MM forecast. Other Toronto players agreeing to terms include Kevin Pillar ($3.25MM vs. $4.0MM projection) and Dominic Leone ($1.085MM vs. $1.2MM projection), MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm tweets.
- The Rays and closer Alex Colome settled at $5.3M, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (on Twitter). He’d been projected at $5.5MM and is controllable for three more years. They also settled at $5.95MM with outfielder/DH Corey Dickerson ($6.4MM projection) and $4.5MM with infielder Brad Miller ($4.4MM projection), per Murray (all Twitter links). Steven Souza, according to Murray will earn $3.55MM, placing him right in line with his $3.6MM projection. Dickerson and Miller are controlled through 2019. Souza is controlled through 2020.
- Perhaps unsurprisingly, in the wake of yesterday’s unsettling news, Rays righty Jake Odorizzi has decided to move his representation to Excel Sports Management, according to FanRag’s Robert Murray (Twitter link). Odorizzi had been with CSE prior to agent Jason Wood’s dismissal from the agency in the wake of disturbing allegations made against him. Odorizzi becomes the second CSE client to jump to Excel in the wake of the scandal, joining Pirates prospect Mitch Keller. In Odorizzi, Excel will be adding another established big league client with a semi-notable arbitration case pending. Odorizzi is in his second trip through that process and has a projected arbitration salary of $6.5MM for the coming season. He’s controllable by the Rays through the 2019 season, though he has, of course, been oft-mentioned as a possible trade candidate.
The Orioles, Rays and Blue Jays are among the teams that face a critical decision this offseason, writes MLB.com’s Mike Petriello. All three are looking up at a stacked pair of rosters in Boston and New York, and there’s an argument to be made that each of the three should rebuild rather than make an aggressive push to contend in 2018. The Orioles and Jays are set to lose Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson to free agency next winter, while the low-payroll Rays have already been forced to trade Evan Longoria largely for fiscal reasons and have yet to see this core group realize its full potential. What truly matters for bubble teams of this nature, though, is simply making a definitive call, Petriello argues. With so many incentives (in terms of talent acquisition) for teams at the bottom of the league, rebuilding toward a brighter future or aggressively “going for it” are more logical routes for each of these teams than merely executing half-measures that will result in another middle-of-the-pack finish, Petriello posits.
- After missing all of the 2017 season as he recovered from two surgeries to repair his Achilles tendon, Rays infielder Matt Duffy feels he is at 100 percent and is beginning a running program, per Bill Chastain of MLB.com. In addition to running on a track, Duffy has been going to physical therapy sessions three times per week to continue strengthening the area and is confident in its stability. “I’m just finally to the point where I’m not worried at all. No anxiety,” Duffy said. “[Anxiety] was hanging over my head all year. Even when I felt good, I’d be like, ’When am I not going to feel good? Which step is going to set me back for five days?'” As Chastain points out, Duffy was initially acquired from the Giants to play shortstop for the Rays, but the trade of Evan Longoria (to Duffy’s former team) and the presence of Adeiny Hechavarria could once again have him ticketed for his former position, third base.
- First baseman Ji-Man Choi’s agency in Korea recently spoke to the media about their client’s current foray into free agency and revealed that he’s received offers (presumably of the minor league variety) from the Yankees, Angels, Rays, A’s, Brewers, Marlins, Cubs, Reds, Orioles, Twins, Braves, Blue Jays and White Sox (English link via Jee-ho Yoo of South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency). The 26-year-old Choi slugged a pair of homers in 18 plate appearances with the Yankees last year and posted a strong year with their Triple-A affiliate, slashing .288/.373/.538 in 87 games. In parts of five Triple-A campaigns, Choi has posted a robust .298/.390/.479 batting line.
Coming off an 80-win campaign, its fourth straight sub-.500 season, Tampa Bay entered the winter in payroll-trimming mode. The Rays opened last season with a paltry payroll of just over $70MM, and if they’re not even willing to spend that amount in 2018, it’ll make competing in a division with the Yankees and Red Sox all the more difficult. It’s possible, then, that the Rays will opt for a major rebuild in the coming months. So far this offseason, they’ve already subtracted third baseman and longtime face of the franchise Evan Longoria, who went to the Giants in a late-December, five-player trade. Odds are that Longoria won’t be the last notable veteran the Rays jettison over the next few months – especially considering they still have multiple trade candidates who would garner strong returns, as you’ll see below.
Denard Span, OF ($13MM, including a $4MM buyout in 2019): The Rays acquired Span in the Longoria trade to help balance out money, so they could flip the 33-year-old before he ever plays a game for them. However, Span didn’t do his trade value any favors in 2017, combining roughly league-average offense (.272/.329/.427 in 542 plate appearances) with the ugliest defensive showing of his career (minus-27 Defensive Runs Saved, minus-7.5 Ultimate Zone Rating). Span may have been the worst defensive outfielder in the majors last season, likely his last as a center fielder. So, Span’s now a defensively limited corner outfielder without a big bat. That’s not a great combination, especially at his price tag and with so many corner options remaining in free agency. In the event the Rays shop Span but don’t find a taker for him, the Tampa Bay native would be thrilled to suit up for his hometown team.
Wilson Ramos, C ($10.5MM): Ramos wasn’t effective in 2017, nor are there many contending teams looking for short-term upgrades at catcher (for those that are, free agents Jonathan Lucroy and Alex Avila could be more appealing). Those factors, not to mention Ramos’ salary, figure to make him a tough sell. Ramos deserves credit for returning last season from the torn ACL he suffered in September 2016, but his offensive production took a dive (he logged a 124 wRC+ in 2016 and a 92 wRC+ in 2017). The former National also endured an uncharacteristically poor defensive season and threw out only 17 percent of would-be base stealers (down from 37 percent the prior year).
Adeiny Hechavarria, SS ($5MM projected arbitration salary): The Marlins sent Hechavarria to the Rays in a payroll-cutting move last June, which should tell you he doesn’t have much trade value. Hechavarria has been an excellent defender of late (23 DRS, 27.9 UZR since 2015), though, and that could make him a target for a team in need of a slick-fielding infielder. Of course, Hechavarria’s inability to contribute offensively has somewhat undermined his terrific glove work. The 29-year-old owns a lifetime .255/.291/.345 batting line (granted, he hit a more respectable .261/.289/406 last season), and he doesn’t offer much power (.090 ISO) or base-stealing prowess (30 of 48 in his career).
Two Years Of Control
Jake Odorizzi, SP ($6.5MM projected salary): The Rays understandably want a respectable haul for the right-handed Odorizzi, who’s a proven big league starter with youth on his side (28 in March). Unfortunately for them, Odorizzi was a disappointment last year (4.14 ERA/5.43 FIP in 143 1/3 innings), thanks in part to injuries (he went on the disabled list once for a hamstring issue and another time on account of back problems), a career-worst walk mark (3.83 per nine) and a bloated home run-to-fly ball rate (15.5 percent).
Both Odorizzi’s struggles last year and a lifetime groundball rate of 33.7 percent stand out as red flags, though he’s not far removed from a 2014-16 stretch in which he averaged 175 frames per season and pitched to a 3.72 ERA/3.91 FIP. Given Odorizzi’s overall track record, the Rays shouldn’t have trouble finding a team for him if they’re motivated to ship him out.
Corey Dickerson, OF/DH ($6.4MM projected salary): Dickerson opened his career in impressive fashion as a Rockie from 2013-15, though the lefty-swinger struggled against same-handed pitchers and away from hitter-friendly Coors Field during that stretch. In 2016, his first year in Tampa Bay, Dickerson did little to quell concerns that he was a platoon bat and a product of the Mile High air, but he bounced back to a degree last season. The 28-year-old earned his first All-Star nod on the strength of a .312/.355/.548 first-half line, though his production dropped off sharply after mid-July (.241/.282/.408). Moreover, Statcast indicates Dickerson’s expected weighted-on base average (.310) paled in comparison to his actual wOBA (.350). There remain questions about Dickerson’s offensive game, then; on the positive side, Dickerson was similarly solid against both right- and left-handed pitchers for the first time in his career last season, and the advanced metrics (one DRS, 8.7 UZR) looked favorably on his defense from 2016-17. Still, this probably isn’t a player who’s teeming with trade value.
Brad Miller, IF ($4.4MM projected salary): The Rays may have shopped Miller, 28, before tendering him a contract last month. If they did, teams likely weren’t lining up for a player who trudged through a miserable, injury-affected 2017. After posting terrific power numbers (30 homers, .239 ISO) and hitting .243/.304/.482 as a first baseman/shortstop in 2016, he limped to a .201/.327/.337 line with nine HRs and a .136 ISO as a second baseman last season. While Miller is versatile defensively, he has never held his own anywhere with the glove. All things considered, there’s not much value here at the moment.
Dan Jennings, RP ($2.5MM projected salary): Tampa Bay was in the playoff race approaching last July’s non-waiver trade deadline, which led the club to ship a decent prospect – first baseman Casey Gillaspie – to the White Sox for the left-handed Jennings. The Rays fell apart over the season’s final couple months, making the acquisition somewhat of a waste. The club could now try to flip the inexpensive Jennings, who has held his own for most of his career. Jennings has fared nicely against both left- and right-handed hitters, having limited the former to a .307 wOBA and the latter to a .300 mark. While his lifetime strikeout and walk numbers aren’t palatable (7.31 K/9, 4.09 BB/9), Jennings has induced grounders at a 55.2 percent clip and managed a 2.90 ERA over 279 2/3 innings. The soon-to-be 31-year-old may bring back something useful in a trade, then, if the Rays are inclined to move him.
Kevin Kiermaier, OF (controllable through 2023 for $60MM): There has been no real chatter this winter about the Rays dealing Kiermaier, whom they locked up to an extension prior to last season. Although the solid-hitting defensive maven seems likely to stick in Tampa Bay for the foreseeable future, he’d certainly draw plenty of looks on the trade market. Dating back to 2014, his breakout season, Kiermaier ranks eighth among outfielders in fWAR (16.1), owing to his all-around game. Kiermaier, who will turn 28 in April, combined for ridiculous defensive numbers in center over the previous four seasons (103 DRS, 62.8 UZR) and complemented those with an above-average batting line (.262/.319/.431) and base-stealing ability (60 on 79 tries).
Chris Archer, SP (controllable through 2021 for $34MM): With Kiermaier unlikely to go anywhere, the 29-year-old Archer stands out as the crown jewel of the Rays’ realistic trade possibilities; more than that, the durable, hard-throwing righty’s track record and team-friendly contract combine to make him one of the game’s most valuable assets. As a result, the Rays could simply keep him and continue to benefit from his presence. But if they opt for a full-scale rebuild, aggressively shopping Archer would make sense. While it’s unclear how serious the Rays actually are about trading Archer, he has already garnered significant interest this offseason, unsurprisingly.
Alex Colome, RP ($5.5MM projected arbitration salary; controllable through 2020): A Colome trade looked like an inevitably entering the offseason, and multiple teams have aggressively pursued him recently, but no deal has come together yet. One of those suitors, Colorado, is likely out of the Colome market after signing fellow closer Wade Davis this week. Still, there are other teams with late-game needs – namely St. Louis – that could put together a package for the former starter. Colome, who turned 29 on New Year’s Eve, is coming off a league-best 47-save season (his second full-time campaign as a reliever), though he did see his other numbers fall off precipitously compared to 2016. His K/9 (11.28 to 7.83), BB/9 (2.38 to 3.11), swinging-strike percentage (15.1 to 11.6) and ERA (1.91 to 3.24) all went in the wrong direction last year.
Steven Souza, OF ($3.6MM projected arbitration salary; controllable through 2020): At least one team has checked in with the Rays about the righty-hitting Souza this offseason, but there’s no indication he’s going anywhere. The Rays would be selling high on the three-year veteran if they did part with him, though; despite hip problems, Souza’s fresh off a season in which he slashed .239/.351/.459 with personal bests in PAs (617), home runs (30), ISO (.220) walk rate (13 percent) and strikeout rate (29 percent). It’s worth noting that Souza wasn’t nearly as effective in the two prior seasons, and his xwOBA (.334) fell well short of his actual wOBA (.353) in 2017. To his credit, the soon-to-be 29-year-old complemented his most recent output at the plate with plus defense (seven DRS, 4.3 UZR) in right field for the second straight season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Rays have been linked to Jose Bautista both last winter and even earlier this offseason, though MLB.com’s Bill Chastain hasn’t heard about any interest from the team’s end. Bautista makes some sense as a right-handed platoon partner with lefty-swingers Brad Miller and Corey Dickerson at first base or DH, and Bautista also lives in the Tampa area. He would be a low-cost signing for the Rays in the wake of his dreadful 2017 season, though that same lackluster performance could be the reason the Rays are apparently looking elsewhere rather than hope Bautista can bounce back at age 37. On the other hand, Chastain notes that the Rays have made other veteran additions in the past without any advance warning, so it’s probably too early to definitively rule out a signing.