Results tagged ‘ Andrew Friedman ’
Just two weeks away from the trade deadline, the Tampa Bay Rays have clearly emerged as contenders in the AL East, standing atop the Wild Card race and just 2.5 games out of first place in the division.
Like usual, GM Andrew Friedman and the Rays probably won’t make much noise at the deadline, but it is likely that we see at least one minor trade later this month.
Here’s my ranking for the organization’s top four best bargaining chips.
4. Ryan Roberts
Ryan Roberts is one of the most likely trade candidates for the Rays at the deadline. With the team healthy and the offense functioning well, Tampa Bay simply does not have a spot for him on the roster, which is why he’s currently playing in Triple-A.
If the Rays do try to make a move at the deadline, expect to see them shopping Roberts.
3. Enny Romero
One of the Rays’ top pitching prospects, Enny Romero was just selected to his second consecutive All-Star Futures Game earlier this week. The 22-year-old left-hander has exciting potential and has looked good this year with Class AA Montgomery.
With the emergence of Chris Archer, Alex Torres, Alex Colome and Jake Odorizzi, could Romero be a possible trade candidate?
I don’t expect to see Friedman even attempt to trade him, but if he does decide to dig deep for prospects, this may be a good time to deal Romero with his stock pretty high.
2. Kelly Johnson
Could Kelly Johnson be a potential trade target for clubs seeking a bat and some depth? The 31-year-old is enjoying a strong comeback year in Tampa Bay, posting a .762 OPS with a 113 wRC+ (weighted runs created plus) and a 1.8 WAR.
Since his contract is expiring at the end of the year, Andrew Friedman may listen to some offers for Johnson but I doubt he’ll pull the trigger. He’s a key part of a team that plans on competing in October, so I don’t think it would be the right choice to deal an important piece like Johnson.
1. Roberto Hernandez
Roberto Hernandez’s numbers this season in the back end of the Rays’ rotation aren’t too pretty: 5-10 with a 4.90 ERA and a 4.58 FIP. However, Hernandez has shown some flashes of his All-Star Fausto Carmona days, posting a career-high 3.36 K/BB rate.
With rookie Chris Archer appearing to be more than capable of pitching in the Rays’ rotation and Alex Cobb returning soon, the Rays may look into trading Hernandez, who will be a free agent after this season.
If the Rays decide to hang on to him, he might find himself with a role in the bullpen.
It was a productive offseason for general manager Andrew Friedman, as he significantly bolstered the Tampa Bay Rays’ offense and organizational depth.
The Rays made headlines this winter when they pulled off a huge blockbuster with Kansas City, trading away James Shields and Wade Davis for a talented haul of prospects which included Wil Myers. Tampa Bay also filled in some crucial holes on their roster via free agency, signing James Loney to play first base and Yunel Escobar for shortstop.
Of course, some acquisitions haven’t turned out to be as good as others, but at the end of the day it was a successful offseason for the Rays.
Here’s my updated evaluation and grading on every offseason signee.
*Take note that only players on the 25-man active roster are included. I also excluded players who were re-signed (Kyle Farnsworth and Luke Scott) from this article.
Kelly Johnson has been arguably the best free-agent acquisition for the Rays, well exceeding expectations so far this season. Johnson, who had not very productive 2011 and 2012 seasons, has rebounded in a huge way in 2013.
He’s posted a .275/.340/.515 slash line with 10 homers, 35 RBI and a 134 wRC+. Johnson has been strong defensively as well, compiling a 2.4 UZR after putting up a -6.9 UZR last season.
It’s safe to say that he’s well worth the $2.45 million that he’s being paid in his one-year deal.
When the Rays lost James Shields and Wade Davis in the Wil Myers blockbuster, Andrew Friedman felt that it was necessary to pick up an additional arm that can contribute to the starting rotation and/or bullpen. He went out and signed veteran sinkerballer Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, to a one-year deal worth $3.25 million.
After 10 starts with the Rays, Hernandez has posted a 4.87 ERA with a 4.69 FIP and 7.85 K/9. Nobody really expected him to return to frontline-starter form, but if he keeps up this kind of performance he’ll eventually be demoted from the rotation to either a bullpen spot or the minor leagues.
With the emergence of Alex Torres, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and Alex Colome, Hernandez’s job is definitely in jeopardy. If Hernandez can’t maintain his rotation spot, hopefully he can make a positive contribution to the bullpen with his groundball services.
After a down year with the Dodgers and Red Sox in 2012, the Rays didn’t know how much production they would get out of James Loney this season. So far he’s been more than a best-case scenario, batting .324/.390/.516 with a very impressive 150 wRC+.
The $2 million that the Rays are paying their starting first baseman this year is more than a bargain.
Loney has not only outperformed Carlos Pena offensively as Tampa Bay’s first baseman, but he’s also provided a lot of value defensively, as he’s been one of the better fielding first basemen in the league for a while. He’s been a key part of both the Rays’ improved offense and defense in 2013.
Acquiring Yunel Escobar was another smart pick-up by Andrew Friedman this offseason. Adding Escobar was a great decision in all respects; the Rays only gave away a Single-A [not-top] prospect in the trade for him and also have the veteran shortstop under a reasonable $5 million contract through 2015.
Although Escobar hasn’t been very productive offensively (currently owns a .299 wOBA, which is actually higher than projected and not too bad for a shortstop), he’s been extremely valuable to this Rays team.
In the previous two seasons, the Rays couldn’t get any kind of stable production from the shortstop position, tooling around with different mediocre-at-best players such as Sean Rodriguez, Elliot Johnson and Reid Brignac. With Escobar, the Rays no longer have that problem.
For the first time since 2010, Tampa Bay has a defensively-solid everyday shortstop.
The Rays made some noise this week in what has been one quiet month in the offseason.
Andrew Friedman signed a quartet of free agents to minor league contracts on Tuesday, including right-handed relievers Juan Carlos Oviedo (formerly known as Leo Nunez), Jamey Wright and Juan Sandoval, as well as OF Shelley Duncan. He added to the FA shopping spree Thursday by re-signing veteran righty Kyle Farnsworth and left-handed DH Luke Scott.
Oviedo, 30, saved 92 games during his three seasons with the Marlins (2009-2011), where he posted a 3.86 ERA through 198.0 IP. Due to a suspension for identity fraud and an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, he didn’t pitch at all in the majors in 2012. Unfortunately for the Rays, Oviedo is going to miss most of this season as well to recover, which is why they added a 2014 option to his contract.
Shelley Duncan, the second biggest name in these signings, was a rather interesting pick-up. Back in a 2008 spring training game between Tampa Bay and the Yankees, Duncan started a bench-clearing brawl by purposely sliding hard into second baseman Akinori Iwamura. The 33-year-old right-handed power hitter will provide some depth in the corner outfield positions and might even end up at DH if the Rays fail to sign someone. Duncan is a .229/.306/.427 lifetime hitter who hit 11 homers and less than 50 RBI during each of his last three seasons with Cleveland, where he averaged 80 games per season. With that mediocre production and below-average defense, hopefully the Rays can find somebody better qualified in the next month to serve as the team’s DH.
Jamey Wright, a 38-year-old reliever with 17 years of MLB experience, could very possibly give Tampa’s ‘pen a nice boost. A very affordable option, Wright has proven to be one of the better groundball specialists in the league. Over the past three seasons with Seattle and Los Angeles, he’s posted a groundball percentage of 62.4%. That’s better than Burke Badenhop’s rate, who Wright could very likely replace in the bullpen.
Thirty-two year-old Juan Sandoval completes the trio of right-handed relievers acquired by the Rays Tuesday. Sandoval has never pitched in the big leagues, but he has spent the last two season in the Mexican League at the Triple-A level. One very intriguing fact about Sandoval is that he’s blind in one eye due to a pellet gun accident.
As for Kyle Farnsworth, well, Rays fans already know what kind of contributions he can give to the ‘pen. Farnsworth posted a 4.00 ERA with 8.3 K/9 through just 27 innings last year after missing most of the season due to an elbow injury. However, he had a career year as the team’s closer in 2011 when he went 5-1 with a 2.18 ERA and 25 saves.
Tampa Bay continued their busy Thursday by making another re-signing, but this one a bit more surprising. Lacking an adequate designated hitter, the Rays went out and signed Luke Scott despite declining his $6 million option in October and paying for his $1 million buyout. Scott had disappointing 2012 season with the Rays, batting just .229/.285/.439 with 14 homers and 55 RBI through just 96 games.
So, what does this flurry recent acquisitions mean for the current state of the Rays?
The bullpen now appears to be set with the additions of Farnsworth, Oviedo and Wright. The offensive depth just got better as well, as the Rays added both a right-handed and left-handed power bat in Shelley Duncan and Luke Scott.
Bats such as Travis Hafner, Juan Rivera, Carlos Lee, Jim Thome, Dan Johnson and Aubrey Huff are still available on the market, but the Rays are more than likely done with free agent signings this offseason as the roster seems to be set. Scott will probably end up as the starting DH as he was last year, and the Rays appear to be going with Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton as their two catchers to start the season.
It’s nice to see Friedman get the job done again this offseason by filling in all of the holes in the roster by the most affordable means possible. Rays fans should be confident that their team will have yet another successful bullpen in 2013, as Tampa once again displayed their ability to reconstruct what could potentially be one of baseball’s better ‘pens.
As 2011 comes to a conclusion, the Rays’ Hot Stove is about to heat up. Since the Andrew Friedman era started back in 2005, January has been the month with the most off-field activity. As you can see in the picture above (Courtesy of DRaysBay.com), January is clearly the busiest month for the Rays’ front office. That brings up the big question; what moves will the Rays make this month? With constant rumors starting to flare, all signs are pointing towards offseason action in the coming weeks. With four new names emerging in Rays chatter in just the last five days, things could get interesting here.
Free agent Ryan Theriot is one of those names who’s apparently attracting interest from the Rays. According to sources, the Rays are among multiple teams that may be after Theriot’s middle-infield services. Last year, Theriot batted .271 and also contributed with solid defense at two positions for the World Champion Cardinals. I don’t see the Rays landing Theriot as a high possibility, but it could be a good acquisition considering the Rays’ shortstop situation.
The next couple of players have made a splash in Rays rumors lately, and definitely should excite Rays Republic. John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes that the Rays may work out a trade with the Angels, bringing either Kendry Morales or Mark Trumbo to Tampa Bay. The potential trade suggested here makes a lot of sense. With Albert Pujols now the team’s future first baseman, the Angels are stuck with two extra first baseman. It seems likely that LA would shop one of the two, and Tampa appears like a probable destination. The Angels would probably be looking for another starter to add to an already-impressive rotation, while the Rays are in need of a first baseman. If you remember, Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann are still sitting on the trade block, and it wouldn’t be a shocker if LA is keeping a close eye. The Rays absolutely need to aggressively pursue a trade for either Trumbo or Morales this month. These are a pair of two talented sluggers who could really bolster the Rays’ offense. Trumbo had a great rookie season for the Angels last year, finishing second place in the ROY voting. The 25 year-old belted 29 homers and knocked in 87 RBI’s, giving the Angels’ a huge offensive boost during the season. Morales seems to be more of an attractive trade piece for the Angels rather than an current interest of the Rays. The obvious reason for this is his famous 2010 injury, which kept him out of the whole 2011 season. Still, his terrific production during his ’09 and ’10 seasons may soon open up eyes in the front office. Of course none of this will be necessary if the Rays can pull of a trade with Anthony Rizzo, who should be the main target right now.
The last name that could develop into a rumor later this month is Kurt Suzuki. There haven’t been reports of any teams interested in him yet, but the possibility of him leaving Oakland in the near future is no secret. Even though the Rays signed Jose Molina to fill in at the catcher spot, the backstop issues aren’t over by no means. Suzuki isn’t anyone to get too excited about, though. The 28 year-old Hawaiian owns a career .258 batting average with mediocre run production, and also has proven to be decent defensively. Obviously, this is much better than most of the Rays’ future catching options. However, Suzuki’s contract is a bit expensive for the Rays, and it’s debatable whether he’s worth spending the money on. Chances are the Rays will have to do with Jose Molina in 2012.
Contract extensions are where Andrew Friedman and the Tampa Bay Rays shine. The Rays have done a terrific job in recent years locking up young talent with very reasonable contract deals. Past young stars such as Evan Longoria, David Price, James Shields, Carl Crawford, and Ben Zobrist were all signed to long-term contracts with the Rays. The club kept the trend going this offseason, signing phenom pitcher Matt Moore to an eight-year extension. As more talented youth continues to emerge from the depths of Durham, more names continue to be recognized as extension candidates. Let’s take a look a look at the Rays’ most probable contract extension candidates.
Matt Joyce is currently the club’s most renown extension candidate. With Carl Crawford gone and B.J. Upton possibly leaving sometime within the next year, Matt Joyce could be a big part of the outfield in the years to come. Joyce is exactly the type of player the Rays want in their future. At just 27, Joyce already provides a big left-handed bat in the middle of the lineup. Last year in his first full MLB season, he was the only Rays position player elected to the All Star Game in Phoenix. Joyce finished the season with a .277 average and 75 RBI’s, and showed major improvement in both his defensive and running game. A contract extension is probably an attractive option for both the Rays and Joyce. Joyce is a young player seeking long-term financial stability, while the Rays are a team looking for effective power hitters like him. I definitely see a contract extension for Matt Joyce as a possibility for the Rays, and I’m hopeful the team can work out a deal with him. I believe that signing Joyce to an extension this offseason is the right move for the Rays. Offensive production is vital for the Rays’ future, and a decently-priced deal could also be in line here. In a past article from ESPNFlorida.com, analyst Tommy Rancel brings up an intriguing idea on how a Joyce extension might work out. He states that Ben Zobrist’s contract, $18 million through four years plus two club options, could serve as a blueprint for a potential extension with Joyce. A recent article via MLBTradeRumors.com mentions some more points that could favor a contract extension. It suggests that Joyce could offer a discount, being a Tampa native. The article also talks about how Joyce’s lack of a big draft signing bonus could make him more interested in signing the extension. Hopefully, both Joyce and the Rays see the same golden opportunity here that I do. Andrew Friedman is on a roll, and we’ll see if he can pull off another masterpiece yet again.
Rookie outfielder Desmond Jennings is one of baseball’s young stars ready to take flight. Unlike most of the Rays’ talented young stars, Jennings isn’t a pitcher. He’s a wanted commodity in Tampa Bay, and he’s player the Rays really need to get a grip on. In his anticipated rookie season in 2011, Jennings was everything the Rays had expected and more. His great speed, defense, and contact hitting was already acknowledged by scouts everywhere, but his electric power that he displayed was a bit of a surprise. Like fellow candidate Matt Joyce, Jennings is also a huge part of the team’s future in the outfield. He is the complete package, and the Rays are really excited about this guy. Considering how much the Rays would love to have a player like Jennings in their future, a long-term extension with him could be very possible. Jennings is under team control for six more seasons, which is good news. Interestingly, Evan Longoria and Matt Moore are the only other Rays players ever to be extended for all six years of their team control. Longoria was guaranteed six seasons and Moore was guaranteed five season. Both were given three years of club options. The reason for the Rays’ larger commitment towards Longoria is because Moore (being a pitcher) is at a higher risk for injury. If the Rays decide to offer Jennings a contract extension, it will probably be more like Moore’s. The reason for this, is that the 25 year-old has already experienced a number of injuries in his professional career. Jennings’ health issues are obviously something that will go against the chance of an extension. However, the likeliness of B.J. Upton leaving the Rays next year is something that definitely favors a long-term deal. At the end of the day, I think it’s a no-brainer to extend Jennings’ contract. We’re talking about the future leadoff hitter of the team here, and someone who I believe will be essential to the Rays’ offense in the coming years. Locking up Jennings for the long-term will come with a price, but it’s well worth the money.
2011 AL Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson, by no surprise, is an appealing extension candidate. After winning the prestigious ROY Award, making efforts to negotiate some sort of long-term deal with Hellboy seems inevitable. Of course the Rays and all their fans would love to see Hellickson pitching in Tampa for as long as possible, but a contract extension would be pretty pricey. After such a stunning rookie season, Helly can obviously make a good case for a salary. The money is really the only thing that would get in the way of an extension. If the Rays and Hellickson work out a deal, it would be something like the contract agreements of fellow starters Wade Davis, James Shields, and Matt Moore (click here for a chart via DRaysBay.com). That means it would be somewhere in the range of 4-5 years guaranteed, with probably three years of club options. Considering the Rays’ surplus of starting pitching right now, I don’t see a long-term deal with Hellickson as much of a necessity as a Desmond Jennings extension. Still, keeping Hellickson in Tampa Bay is something the Rays should work on this offseason.
As the first two months of the Rays’ offseason comes to a conclusion and the Winter Meeting pass, the Rays have made progress on their Winter to-do list. Entering the offseason, the Rays had some work to do in order to address areas of need. First base, bullpen, catcher, and the DH spot were all holes that needed to be filled coming into the winter. There also were, and still are, big names at risk of leaving the team. Johnny Damon, Joel Peralta, Kelly Shoppach, and Casey Kotchman are all on the free agent list. James Shields, Kyle Farnsworth, and B.J. Upton are others that may not be playing for the Rays next year.
The first mission the Rays had this offseason was to deal with their three club options. Kyle Farnsworth, Kelly Shoppach, and James Shields were all asking for multi-millions for 2012. With the team’s ace and closer on the line, the Rays accepted both Farnsworth’s and Shields’ option. Kelly Shoppach, however, was declined and is now testing free agency.
The acceptance of Shields’ and Farnsworth’s options highly increased their chances of staying with the team next year. It was a huge sigh of relief for Rays fans everywhere to hear that their “Big Game” James is safe, unless traded. As for Farnsworth, he was a big part of the Rays’ bullpen in 2011. Keeping Farnsworth is essentially one less step in the bullpen’s rebuilding process. In Shoppach’s case, I guess the Rays just didn’t see any reason to overpay him after an awful 2011 season. Although considering the Rays’ catching situation, I was a bit surprised with the choice.
The Rays’ issue behind the plate was the main focus of their next offseason move. With Shoppach likely not returning in 2011, the Rays went out to look for catching on the free agent market. They found themselves a low-priced and experienced veteran in Jose Molina. It was a move that needed to be done, and took a lot of stress off the issue. After signing Molina, the Rays still weren’t done dealing with their catchers yet. Suddenly out of nowhere, the Rays acquired reliever Josh Lueke from Seattle in exchange for John Jaso. The trade was the biggest surprise of the Rays offseason so far. Being a catcher, nobody expected to see Jaso go anywhere. The trade forecasts that the Rays are probably looking for more catching in the following months. Already rumored names have emerged, such as 40 year-old Ivan Rodriguez.
Catcher isn’t the only position that the Rays have been targeting. With Kotchman and Damon free agents, the first base and DH roles are questionable for Opening Day. The Rays made their first efforts to find a first baseman last week, when the picked up Juan Miranda. Miranda was one of four minor leaguers who were invited to Spring Training by the Rays at the Winter Meetings. The 28 year-old Cuban native has played five professional seasons, showing scouts everywhere his raw power. He hasn’t had much success in his previous MLB stints, but the Rays see a bright future in his big bat. There’s been some trade rumors of other first basemen that the Rays may pursue, but Miranda is the only deal they’ve done so far. The other three players who received the Spring Training invitation along with Miranda, were Matt Mangini, Ricky Orta, and Johnny Nunez. Like Miranda, I believe the Rays made a great move signing Mangini.
The third/first baseman hit an impressive .336 in Triple-A Tacoma last year. I think he can also help give the offense a boost, even though he doesn’t have the power that Miranda has. Ricky Orta and Johnny Nunez are two young relievers that the Rays picked up as part of their bullpen rebuilding process. The Rays reportedly have been seeking more bullpen arms. Veterans that are more likely to contribute to the team in 2012. Joel Zumaya, Luis Ayala, and Andrew Bailey are all names that have come up in rumors lately. With the DH and first base positions a problem now, many overlook the Rays’ bullpen issue, which is also vital in the club’s success. The Rays are definitely better off seeking hitting during the winter. Being so deep in starting pitching, the Rays will probably be able to make something work for next season.
The most recent news of the Rays’ offseason is the contract extension of Matt Moore, which also happened at the Winter Meetings in Dallas. The rookie southpaw guaranteed his contract for a minimum of five years (up to 8 years including options) for $14 million. The contract extension was great news for Rays fans, and another clever offseason move by Andrew Friedman.
It’s a nice feeling knowing that a pitcher like Matt Moore is here to stay for a while. Hopefully, other young stars such as Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson will follow in Moore’s footsteps. Those are two guys that the Rays need to get a grip on, and a contract extension should be in the conversation this offseason. Besides handing out four Spring Training invitations and locking up Matt Moore, the Rays were pretty quiet at the Winter Meeting. With all the big-market action happening in Dallas last week, the Rays probably see a better chance to strike later in the winter. I believe the team’s main goal before spring should be to re-sign Casey Kotchman and Joel Peralta, as well as find at least one more good hitter. At the end of the day, DH and catcher are the Rays’ two main priorities. As of now, Jose Lobaton/Robinson Chirinos is the Rays’ second catcher, and Sam Fuld is the Opening Day DH. Obviously, there’s still plenty of work to be done. The Rays have made forward progress in the first two months of the offseason, but luckily there is another two and a half months to make things right.
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.
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.
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.
After over two months of rumors, it appears as Rays GM Andrew Friedman is staying put in Tampa Bay. Just a few days ago when the Los Angeles Angels announced that they were hiring the former Diamondback executive Jerry Dipoto, Rays Republic was able to take one big collective sigh of relief. This signing meant that Friedman was off the radar of another large-market team. The Friedman rumors ignited in August, when the Cubs fired their GM Jim Hendry. Immediately following this, Friedman’s name was quickly well-noticed on the list of possible replacements. At the time it was a big topic amongst Rays baseball; here’s a past article about it. It wasn’t ’till about a month later, that the Cubs found their man. The name is a well-known one; Theo Epstein. After getting Chicago out of the way, the Friedman subject started to flare up again when Andrew was spotted at a Florida restaurant with Halos’ owner Arte Moreno. Right after that occurrence, it was Tweeted that Friedman was the Angels number 1 choice for GM.
Apparently there was more circumstances involved, as the Angels found someone else to fill the role. The Rays really do need Friedman for real success. He is the man that turned the franchise around and helped build a championship-caliber baseball club. To be honest, I couldn’t picture the Rays without the guy. He’s done amazing things and hopefully the Rays will witness more for many years to come.
Rays Republic, don’t forget to vote Friedman for Executive of the Year in the GIBBY Awards! Much more Rays and Rays moments were nominated for the annual awards at MLB.com. Click here to cast your votes.