Rays Trade Rumors

The Tampa Bay Rays are not new to the MLB trade rumor conversation. Being a small-market team, the Rays do not have many options shopping in the free agent market. To fill in areas of need during the offseason, the Rays are practically forced to trade away some of their young talent. Players such as B.J. Upton, have been in the spotlight of Rays trade rumors for over a year now. As the Rays stand a month and a half into their offseason, new names have emerged arousing the Rays’ Hot Stove. Earlier this week, catcher John Jaso was traded to Seattle for reliever Josh Lueke. It was a move that seemed to come out of nowhere. Many analysts were already projecting Jaso as the Opening Day backstop in 2012. Since the offseason started in October, more possible trade pieces have been named. Pitchers Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, Alex Cobb, and James Shields could all possibly end up as trade bait to reel in some offensive production from teams that lack pitching. The questions are, what kind of players will the Rays pursue? What players are they willing to trade away? The Rays’ winter probably won’t be a real busy one, but there’s a lot to be done in the following months.

One player that Rays appear to have an eye on is Yonder Alonoso. The Cincinnati Reds’ Alonso is one of the best hitting prospects in all of baseball. Some people even believe that the 24 year-old has the same potential as his teammate Joey Votto. Alonso does resemble the former MVP in some ways. He’s a thick left-handed batter who can hit for average and has power as well. From what scouts predict, he’s the making of a great hitter like Votto. Besides for his phenomenal hitting skills, Alonso is also a first baseman. His ability to play at first makes him even more attractive from the Rays’ perspective. With Casey Kotchman and Dan Johnson possibly not returning in 2012, first base is one of the Rays’ areas to tend to in the offseason. 20111202-092606.jpg

Alonso’s not really a slick fielder like the first baseman the Rays have had in the past, but his offensive production could be a huge boost for the team. In just his second MLB season, Alonso put up excellent numbers for Cincinnati. He hit an impressive .330 and knocked out five homers through his 47 games. This is guy I believe the Rays should seriously go after. The former #1 draft pick has only a year left on his contract, he’s young and healthy, and he can simply rake the baseball. A hard-hitting first baseman who can also serve as a DH; sounds like a perfect fit for the Rays. The question to ask now, is who would the Reds be looking for in return? According to sources, the Reds are looking for starting pitching and ideally a No. 2 in the rotation. James Shields is the type of pitcher they are looking to get out of a Yonder Alonso trade. If the Rays are willing to give away Shields to bolster their mediocre offense, Alonso could easily be a Ray. Shields is not the only pitcher that the Rays could trade. Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann are both young arms that the Reds may like in their starting rotation. Wether the Rays decide to go with the Davis/Niemann offer or the Shields offer, a deal could very well be in their reach.

The Reds are not the only team after Davis and Niemann’s services; the Colorado Rockies also seem to have a bit of interest. Maybe not so much anymore though, as they just recently made a deal to pick up a young starter to fill in the rotation. On Wednesday the Rockies found pitching in the Angels’ Tyler Chatwood, trading catcher Chris Ianetta. It wasn’t the greatest of news for the Rays, as Ianetta would be a nice pick up considering the Rays’ catching situation. After the Rays signed Jose Molina, any possibility of making a deal with Colorado quickly diminished. If the Rockies are still looking for more pitching, they do have Ian Stewart to offer. But because he is a third baseman and the Rockies already made their main move, a deal with Colorado seems highly unlikely.

In the last few years, pitching has been the main source for the Rays’ trade away rumors. The one exception to that is center fielder B.J. Upton. The fact that Upton is still a Ray after two consecutive Trade Deadlines where he was almost traded, is a surprise to many. The Washington Nationals are one team that have been interested in Upton for a while now. With the potential in Desmond Jennings and Brandon Guyer now obvious, the long-anticipated B.J. Upton trade seems more likely than before. What the Nationals have to offer is young farm talent, including a catcher that the Rays should keep an eye on. 22 year-old Derek Norris is one of the Nationals’ top catching prospects, and is a possible trade piece with Wilson Ramos emerging as their future catcher. Of course Norris would be just a part of a B.J. Upton trade. 20111202-092559.jpg

Infielder Blake Kelso and right-handed pitcher A.J. Cole are two more minor leaguers that could interest the Rays. Kelso is a utility player, that is known for impressing scouts with his ‘Rays style’ of baseball. The other guy is A.J. Cole, who is a 19 year-old pitcher who has great potential as a big league pitcher. These are all guys that the Rays could use in the future, but I’m still not sure how much I like the idea of Upton being traded. After all, he did just have his best year since 2008 and it seems as he might be on the way up. With the Rays in need of offense, keeping Upton is clearly the right move. Last year Upton finished top three in the five major offensive stats for the team, including first in stolen bases. Losing B.J. would be a pretty big blow for the team, especially considering their efforts to boost the offense. Upton is only going to get better I believe, and his improvement is noticeable. He may still strikeout a ton and hit for a low average, but there’s also a lot of things he does right. On the defensive side of his game, he’s probably even better. To start, there’s only a few center fielders in the big leagues with the range Upton has. This gives him ability to play shallow and still be able to snag the deep flies. In addition to his speed, Upton also has a cannon of an arm. His accuracy is not exactly spot on, but he can throw the ball hard and far. At the end of the day, any pitcher would love to have B.J. Upton playing in center field for their team. B.J. Upton has been a piece to the Rays’ puzzle ever since their magical run in ’08. The team without Upton would be hard to picture.

To recap it all, the Rays should pursue the big bat of the Reds’ Yonder Alonso. As for Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, and Alex Cobb, I think it’s very possible that one will be traded away this winter. Regarding the B.J. Upton trade rumors, Upton is pretty much a must-keep for the Rays’ 2012 roster. The list of Rays trade rumor names is short, but if the right moves are made the Rays will have another successful season next year. In the MLB Hot Stove, it’s about quality not quantity.

17 Comments

As a Rays GM, I would hate to break up that starting rotation but in order to compete in the AL East they’ll need to score some runs. You just have to worry how a young hitting prospect is going to fare over a full MLB season.

http://bluejaysnest.mlblogs.com/

Blue Jays Nest- Yonder Alonso looks like he’s very ready for The Show. He hit great in his short season last year; the only thing getting in the way of him taking off is Joey Votto. As for the starting rotation, the great pitching talent in the minors will hopefully replace any wholes eventually.

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I know B.J. is a great defensive player and he has improved offensively but if they could get a better bat at or under his salary it could be worth it.I just have not seen B.J. come up with many clutch hits and striking out too much can and does hurt a team and even though he has been a pretty good base stealer he is not a heads up base runner getting picked off too many times and not hustling enough on the base paths.

af- His baserunning has actually improved and for the price there aren’t many better bats out there. There are very few good hitters at all in the Rays’ price range if any.

Getting Alonso would really help the Rays. I think they should try to go after him if they can’t get Kotchman back.

Benny- I agree and I actually think that the ideal move would to get both of them. Considering the DH situation, Alonso could serve as the DH while Kotchman would play first (because of his better defense).

When you bid for the services of a free agent, you only need to bid higehr than the next highest bidder assuming all else is equal.Who else could be in the market for Luke Scott? I would think the NL will take a pass on a guy who played virtually no defense in 2012 who is fragile and still got hurt. When we got him he was coming off and injury shortened season with the orioles. What did we get? Another injury shortened season. His overall MLB value decreased substantially.I want Scott back definitely, when he was healthy he along with Joyce were the most productive lefty power bats we had.But no need to overpay. No one will offer him more than 1 year if anyone offers anything. Let him walk, dip his toe in the free agent waters, then resign him for about 3 mil on a 1 year deal.I hate to have to think like a cheap charlie on this but we have to find some way to cobble together a 2013 roster which will still allow for another tidy 20 mil profit for our owner.

I agree that we have plenty of good outrieldefs either already up here, or ready in AAA (Guyer and Jennings). All of them except Joyce play CF. Upton could be traded to fill some holes such as shortstop, relief pitching, or catcher, since Friedman refuses to call up the more than ready and excellent Jose Lobaton. Upton has way too much downside to his game: he is not making the plays in CF that he used to make, especially throwing (almost never on target, overthrows cut-off), he is thrown out on the bases a lot (pick-offs, at home due to lack of hustle, etc.), strikes out too much, is a terrible clutch-hitter (RISP) with the bases loaded he is 1 for his last 17. His game has some merit, but with all his negatives, and the fact that we can’t afford him long-term anyway and young guys that would be paid small salaries are ready, I say trade Upton now. We can still make the playoffs without him.

That takes us up to the next level. Great pointsg.

I think they can handle dealing Shields, Niemann or Davis because they have Alex Cobb, Alex Torres and Matt Moore ready right now, and that’s not even taking into consideration that Jake McGee could still be a starter long-term. Upton would be a nice option in CF and they could keep Jennings in LF. If they got a solid 1B prospect like Alonso for Shields, that would be fantastic. Because Shields is signed to a “team-friendly” contract, I could see them getting Alonso and Yasmani Grandal from the Reds for Shields and a mid-level prospect or a low-level Minor Leaguer like Parker Markel. That would give you a 1B and C of the future in one deal, while keeping your offensive core. No need to deal Upton for Norris…you have to pay SOMEONE, so Upton would be that SOMEONE.

Let me get this right the Rays told Shields NOTHING he Didn’t already Know, They are going to pay him what they owe him but if soiethmng(one) comes along cheaper Goodbye Buddie..They would consider paying Luke Scott $6mil, who couldnt out hit Keppinger in 100 years, plus Kepp can play anywhere in infield, Scott never got off the bench in 2012 .Let Me tell you Rays once again Sign Kepp, I don’t care if its $5 mil there are no Available hitters like him out there, He wants to stay What is your problem??

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evanvogel- I agree with everything except I think there are some names that come before Jake McGee on the future starter list. Still, he could eventually hit that stage, but he’s going to have to pitch very well considering the Rays rotation they have now. A Yonder Alonso trade is obviously a smart move, and almost a must-deal it seams to me. The more young hitters the better.

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