Results tagged ‘ B.J. Upton ’

Rays Prospects Who Never Lived Up to the Hype

The Tampa Bay Rays have had their fair share of touted prospects in their nearly 15-year history.

Stars such as Scott Kazmir, Evan Longoria and David Price are Rays who lived up to their high expectations. The organization, however, has seen a handful of busts and underachieving prospects as well.

Without further delay, here’s a look back at the four Rays prospects who never lived up to the hype.

Dewon Brazelton

Drafted third overall in the 2001 MLB Draft right behind Joe Mauer and Mark Prior, Dewon Brazelton was expected to be the Devil Rays’ ace for years to come.

He never would find success at the big league level, though, struggling mightily throughout his brief five-year MLB career.

Brazelton posted a lifetime 8-25 record and a 6.38 ERA, pitching most of his innings with Tampa Bay.

B.J. Upton

B.J. Upton is obviously nothing near a prospect bust, but he has yet to live up to the very high expectations put upon him since the age of 17.

Over eight seasons with Tampa Bay, the now 28-year-old centerfielder was a productive player. He put up a .255/.336/.422 slash line with 118 home runs, 232 stolen bases and a 107 wRC+.

Upton will likely never live up to the hype of being a No. 2 overall draft pick and the No. 2 ranked prospect in all of baseball in 2004, but his tenure with the Rays wasn’t all that disappointing.

Delmon Young

Delmon Young’s case is similar to B.J. Upton’s: He was a Devil Rays top prospect who simply never played as well as expected, and is now a somewhat productive big league outfielder.

One year after Upton was drafted second overall, Young was taken by Tampa Bay first overall. He was ranked in the top three of Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects list four straight years (2004-2007), including being ranked the game’s No. 1 prospect in 2006.

The kid who was once expected to be an MVP caliber slugger has turned out to be a career 97-wRC+ and -0.3 WAR player.

General Manager Andrew Friedman really made the right move when he traded Young to Minnesota in a blockbuster deal before the 2008 season which included Matt Garza and shortstop Jason Bartlett, two guys who would help bring Tampa Bay its first pennant that year.

Rocco Baldelli

Rocco Baldelli was another top prospect who was a key part of the Devil Rays’ once bright outfield future.

Baldelli, a former sixth overall draft pick and No. 2 ranked prospect, didn’t disappoint at all to begin his career. He had a successful first two seasons, finishing third for Rookie of the Year in 2003 and quickly becoming a fan favorite in Tampa Bay.

It would only go downhill from there for Baldelli, however, as a rare muscle disease caused him numerous injuries and derailed his promising career.

Rocco, now retired, owns a career 98 wRC+.

Rays Sign Mike Fontenot, Upton Headed to Atlanta

The Rays added some infield depth Wednesday, signing 2B/3B Mike Fontenot to a minor league contract. The 32-year-old has posted a .265/.332/.401 line over his seven years in the league. He spent his 2012 season in the Phillies’ organization, where he posted a .299 wOBA in 105 Major League plate appearances.

Tampa also signed five other players to minor league deals during their busy Wednesday, including re-signing OF Rich Thompson. Thompson, 33, had just 22 PA’s with the Rays this year and served mostly as a pinch-runner. Here’s the link to the complete report on all the signings.

In much bigger free agent/hot stove news, B.J. Upton has made his anticipated decision, signing with the Atlanta Braves for a 5-year deal worth $75.25 million. The colossal contract was the largest free agent signing in Braves franchise history.

Rays News and Notes:

  • The 2013 Hall of Fame ballot features two ex-Rays in 1B/DH Fred McGriff and closer Roberto Hernandez (first time on the ballot). Here’s a link to the full ballot, which features some big [and controversial] first-time names such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, etc.
  • Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times looks at the details of Evan Longoria’s new contract. Rather than making $6 million in 2013, Longo will make just $2 million. The remaining $4 million was converted into a signing bonus.
  • The MLB players’ union also weighs in on the new extension (per Ken Rosenthal).
  • DRaysBay.com looks at some potential Rays targets in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.

B.J. Upton Declines Qualifying Offer, Rays Interested in Justin?

As expected, B.J. Upton—as well as all eight other MLB eligibles—declined his $13.3 qualifying offer from the Rays Friday, officially making him a free agent. With B.J. Upton now surely not returning to Tampa Bay next season, there’s a lot of speculation of the Rays potentially making a serious run at younger brother Justin via trade.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Rays could potentially emerge as front-runners for Upton since the Texas Rangers continue to insist that they’re not willing to trade a shortstop (Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus) to the Diamondbacks in a trade for him. Rosenthal also suggests that the Rays could offer either Jeremy Hellickson or James Shields in addition to prospect Hak-Ju Lee if they were to deal for Upton.

More Rays News and Notes

Hellickson Drawing Interest, Price and Molina Win Awards

Entering the offseason, James Shields was expected to be the No. 1 trade rumor name of the Rays’ plethora of starting pitchers. Right now it doesn’t appear that way, however, as Jeremy Hellickson has drawn more interest than anybody else in the rotation so far (per Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com). No team has yet to publicly announced that they’re pursuing Helly, but things could get interesting at the GM meeting this week.

As the MLB award season continues, more Rays players continue to take home hardware. David Price—who makes a strong case for the AL Cy Young Award (announced next week)—was chosen as the AL’s top pitcher by the players (Players Choice Awards) on Monday.

Also in award news, Jose Molina was named the Rays’ top defensive player by Wilson.

More Rays News and Notes:

Tampa Bay Rays Offseason Outlook

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As the Fall Classic concludes and the 2012 baseball season comes to an end, it’s time to look forward into what the winter has in store for the Rays. Like last offseason, Andrew Friedman and the Rays will have some tough choices to make before players report to spring training.

First in line in Tampa’s offseason priorities is their club options, which must all be dealt with this week. Out of the four on the list, the only sure ‘yes’ is Fernando Rodney ($2.5 million). Next is Luke Scott, who hit just .229/.285/.439 with 14 homers and 55 RBI in 344 plate appearances this season. With that kind of production at DH and his lack of ability to stay healthy, the chances of the Rays bringing him back in 2013 for $6 million are very slim.

The Rays hold a $10.25 million on veteran James Shields, who will be one of the main storylines throughout the winter. If they decide not to pick up the option—which is very likely—than they’ll immediately look for suitable deals for a blockbuster trade. As much as the organization prides themselves on excellent starting pitching, they really could use some young offensive talent as well.

The toughest club option decision for the Rays will be Jose Molina. The 37-year-old catcher did a nice job with the pitching staff but didn’t produce well offensively (.284 wOBA through 274 PA’s). At $1.5 million, don’t be surprised to see the Rays exercise his option in order to bring his veteran presence back to the roster.

As for Tampa’s free agents this offseason, the list includes B.J. Upton, Carlos Pena, Kyle Farnsworth, Joel Peralta, Ryan Roberts, Jeff Keppinger and J.P. Howell. It looks like the Rays will part ways with Upton after his many years of service, which means they’ll have one less outfielder in 2013. There is a question to as if the Rays will give Upton a qualifying offer (one year for $13.3 million), however, which would land them a compensatory draft pick if he declines. If the Rays do go ahead and extend a qualifying offer, chances are he’ll turn it down and hit the market in pursuit of a huge long-term team.

Carlos Pena—who hit an MLB-worst .197 with just 19 homers and 61 RBI—is another big name who will likely be missing from the lineup in 2013, meaning the Rays will likely shop the market again this winter for first basemen.

As for the rest of the FA’s, all have a pretty decent chance of returning next season. The Rays would love to bring back Jeff Keppinger after his suprisingly good 2012 season. Keppinger can play three different positions in the infield while serving as an excellent contact hitter who can get the job done at the plate. After hitting .325 last season in his 418 plate appearances, he should be able to earn more than the $1.5 million he made last year.

Ryan Roberts is another player that can provide some infield versatility as well as some power in his bat, and the Rays will probably work on re-signing him as well.

As for the bullpen, it will be interesting to see how they handle free agents Peralta, Farnsworth and Howell. I think it’s safe to say Howell will be back in the ‘pen next season after the fine comeback year he had, posting an ERA a tad over 3 in over 50 innings of work. As for Farnsworth and Peralta though, both are much more of a question mark at the age of 36.

The next offseason topic to talk about is how the Rays will adress their areas of need. The three main holes on the roster are at first base, catcher and DH. They’ll probably seek some help in the outfield, shortstop and in the bullpen as well.

Ben Zobrist made a smooth transition to shortstop towards the end of the year, so it’ll be interesting to see if the Rays decide to make him their starting shortstop next season or continue to search outside the organization. Either way, we can expect to see the Rays sign another middle infielder, such as a Jeff Keppinger or Ryan Roberts type player.

With James Shields and numerous talented pitching prospects, the Rays have the necessary pieces to make a trade that could fill up some of the gaps on the roster. 1B Ike Davis, SS Elvis Andrus, SS Yunel Escobar, C J.P. Arencibia, 1B Eric Hosmer and INF Jed Lowrie are all players who will probably be up for trade this winter.

There are a handful of FA options as well. James Loney seems to be a very realistic possibility at the moment. If the Red Sox decide not resign him—which is about a 50/50 chance—then he would definitely become an affordable option for the Rays at first base. 2B Skip Schumaker, INF Stephen Drew, 1B/DH Lance Berkman, OF Coco Crisp, RP Matt Capps, RP Ryan Madson and INF Maicer Izturis are other names to keep an eye on as well.

Tampa Bay Rays Season in Review

The 2012 season may not be one to remember for Tampa Bay Rays fans. Despite winning 90 games in baseball’s toughest division, they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Considering the high expectations put upon the Rays coming into spring training, many look back at the season as a disappointment.

One word that could used to describe the Rays in 2012 is ‘unlucky’. Not only did they have to play through injury after injury throughout the entire season, but they also saw the Baltimore Orioles and the Oakland A’s both have shockingly great seasons in the same year`, ultimately costing them a spot in the postseason.

Even with all these obstacles, Tampa Bay still could have very possibly made the playoffs. They lost a handful of games that could have been one and had their fair share of awful offensive performances as well.

Let’s take a look back at the Rays’ season as a whole; evaluating what went wrong, what went right, and which players are worthy of team awards.

 

The Offense:

Just like it has been in the previous years, offense once again was the team’s biggest weakness in 2012. The numerous injuries were obviously a huge reason for the Rays’ lack of production, but even some names in the lineups—such as Carlos Pena, Luke Scott and Desmond Jennings—underproduced causing the Rays major problems scoring runs throughout the season.

Relative to expectations and projections for Tampa coming into the season, the Rays actually only slightly underproduced offensively. A thorough article done by Jason Hanselman at the TheRaysWay.com evaluates how well the Rays hit compared to preseason projections by looking at every players wOBA and wRAA. Below is a table: 

What the Rays saw this year is just how shallow their offensive depth is in their organization. Unlike in previous years, they dealt with a large amount of injuries in their lineup and constantly had to call up replacements. As you can see from the numbers, those replacements couldn’t give the Rays any kind of boost that was needed and the injuries would prove to sting as badly as feared.

Team Stats:

Runs: 18th (697) in MLB

Batting average: T-27th (.240)

wOBA: T-16th (.311)

RBI: 17th (665)

Walks: 1st (571)

Stolen Bases: T-5th (134), T-2nd in AL

Team Leaders (500+ PA’s):

BA: Ben Zobrist (.270)

wOBA: Ben Zobrist (.365)

RBI: B.J. Upton (78)

HR: B.J. Upton (28)

wRC+: Ben Zobrist (137)

SB: Desmond Jennings/B.J. Upton (31)

* Evan Longoria and Jeff Keppinger both had under 500 PA’s this season

 

The Pitching

The Rays pitching once again was every bit as good as advertised, and more in 2012. The staff’s ridiculously good season was one of the best in modern baseball history and the best in the majors this year. Tampa’s pitching (including bullpen) led all of baseball in ERA (3.19), FIP (3.51), opponents batting average (.228) and strikeouts (set the AL record team record with 1,383).

The Starters:

David Price – The Cy Young hopeful enjoyed his best season yet thus far in his impressive young career, winning 20 games while posting a 2.56 ERA through 211 innings at the top of the Rays’ rotation. Justin Verlander, who also had an outstanding year, is the only pitcher that stands in the way of some hardware for Price this November. Both make great cases for the award and it should be fun to watch who prevails in the voting. The Rays saw the flame-throwing southpaw continue to develop as an ace in 2012, maturing with his pitch selection as well as with his command. The future looks extremely bright for him.

James Shields – In what could be his last year with the Rays, Shields had himself another successful season with Tampa Bay. He again proved to be one of the most efficient and consistent starters in the league, posting a 15-10 record with a 3.52 ERA through 227.2 innings pitched. He also recorded the most strikeouts of anybody in the rotation (223) while walking the least batters out of the four starters with 150+ IP. Even with all the great pitching talent in the organization, the Rays will no doubt miss Shields next year if he doesn’t return.

Jeremy Hellickson – After taking home the AL Rookie of the Year award last year, Hellickson did a nice job avoiding a sophomore slump in 2012. He hit some rough patches during the season but overall had himself a fine year, posting a 3.10 ERA through 177 innings pitched.

Matt Moore – After a sensational first impression in the big leagues last year as a mid-season call-up at the young age of 22, the top prospect phenom experienced a bumpy roller coaster ride in 2012. As Moore has done in his past years in the minors, he struggled early in the season, posting an ERA in the high 4′s for the first two months and then struggling again late in the season posting an ERA north of 5 in the last month. As expected, fastball command was his biggest issue throughout the year. Overall it wasn’t a bad season at all though, and he’ll likely become a ace-type pitcher very soon with some minor adjustments.

Jeff Niemann – Unfortunately injuries absolutely ruined Niemann’s 2012 season, and it wasn’t the first time in his career either. As he started to heat up in the month of May, he was hit hard by Tampa’s injury plague, taking a hard liner to the leg sidelining the big right-hander for months. He wouldn’t even pitch as much as four innings after that, as a shoulder injury in his first start back in September ended his season for good. Niemann would end the year with a 3.08 ERA through eight starts (38 innings pitched).

Alex Cobb – Just as he did in 2011, Cobb was called up to replace the injured Niemann and did a fine job doing so. He would pitch as much as 136.1 innings by the end of year, posting an 11-9 record with a solid 4.03 ERA. We’ll likely see Cobb continue to contribute to the back end of the Rays’ rotation in the years to come.

Chris Archer – Another top prospect arm, Archer experiences his first taste in the big leagues in 2012. He made four starts for the Rays and posted a 3.80 ERA, showing off his high potential with some impressive major league caliber stuff.

Bullpen:

The Rays’ top-notch rotation was followed up by a bullpen that was one of baseball’s best as well. The ‘pen posted an AL-best ERA of 2.88, a MLB-best FIP of 3.19, AL-best K/9 of 9.33 and an MLB-best opponent’s average of .205. Featured in Tampa’s bullpen was baseball’s best reliever: Fernando Rodney. The flamethrowing closer set the all-time MLB record among relief pitchers for ERA  with a 0.60 mark while recording 48 saves out of 50 opportunities (although only one BS was his fault). The ‘pen was also strengthened by Wade Davis, who did a nice job in his transition from starter to long-reliever. Jake McGee is another name worth mentioning. The young fireballer displayed his sky-high potential by posting a 1.95 ERA with an 11.87 K/9 as a middle reliever.

 

Pleasant Surprises:

  • Jeff Keppinger – When signed by the Rays as somewhat of an extra infielder, nobody thought Keppinger would put the impressive offensive numbers that he did. The 32-year-old veteran hit .325 with a .352 wOBA and 128 wRC+ in 418 plate appearances.
  • Fernando Rodney – Not only was Rodney the most pleasant surprise with the Rays this year, but he was also the most pleasant surprise in all of baseball. After struggling in the past couple of seasons with the Angels, Rodney revived himself in Tampa Bay in 2012, earning him the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award. His historical season also earned him a much-deserved Deliverman Award (acknowledging the league’s best reliever).

     

Disappointments:

  • Carlos Pena – Pena was brought back to Tampa Bay in order to give the Rays consistent run production in the middle of the lineup, but miserably failed to do so this season. The veteran first baseman hit .197 (an MLB low) while knocking in a career-low (for full seasons) RBI total 62 and a career-low home run total of 19.
  • Luke Scott – Like Pena, Scott was acquired in the offseason for the same reasons except for DH duties. He too failed to put up the offensive numbers expected from him, posting a .229/.285/.439 line with just 55 RBI. Injuries were issue as well, and caused him to play just 96 games all season.
  • Sean Rodriguez – Sadly, Rodriguez was the Rays’ best choice for the starting shortstop role at the beginning of the season, and he proved to be probably the worst overall in the league. Offensively he struggled mightily, ending the year with a wOBA of .269 and a wRC+ of 71. Defensively he wasn’t much better either, as he committed a team-high 11 errors.

     

Team Awards:

Team MVP: Ben Zobrist

Best Pitcher: David Price

Best Offensive Player: Ben Zobrist

Biggest Surprises of the Rays’ Season So Far

Here we are in late September, with six games left to go in the regular season. The Rays stand two games out of a playoff spot with a 86-70 record. Rays fans have seen their share of surprises (pleasant and disappointing) throughout the year, and will probably see more as the 2012 season winds down to another exciting finish. Let’s take a look at four biggest surprises season.

The Amount of Injuries

Every team deals with injuries, but not many have been hit by as many injuries as the Rays have this year. In recent years, the Rays are usually one of the less injury-plagued teams in the league, but that has not been the case at all in 2012. Everybody in the starting lineup besides Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist and Jose Molina has spent time on the DL this season, and 15 players from the 40-man roster have been placed on the DL at some point this season.

Jeff Keppinger

When the Rays signed Jeff Keppinger, they knew he was a good contact hitter, but they had no clue he was going put up a line as impressive as .332/.372/.443. He doesn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify for a batting title, but he does own the highest batting average in the American League. Among Rays players, Keppinger is first in average, third in wOBA, third in wRC+ and fourth in WAR (among position players).

Carlos Pena and Luke Scott

The Rays acquired both Carlos Pena and Luke Scott in the offseason to give their lineup a much-needed boost. They weren’t expected to be one of the better slugging combos in baseball, but they were expected to produce better than they have this season. Neither Pena or Scott have hit for a wOBA of .315+, a wRC+ of over 100, 20 home runs or an average of over .230. The two have combined for just 115 RBI and a WAR of just 1.3.

Passiveness at Trade Deadline

The Rays are usually one of the more quiet teams during the trade deadline frenzy, but Andrew Friedman & Co. were extra passive this past July. Some big names—such as B.J. Upton and James Shields—were rumored to be on the market for the Rays. The Rays also turned many heads when they said they’d be open to trading any of their starters except Matt Moore. In the end they decided not to trade anyone [on the 40-man roster], and ended up making only one move: acquiring Ryan Roberts.

Evaluating the Rays’ Performance at the Trade Deadline

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As the 2012 trade deadline swiftly passed, the Rays were surprisingly one of the more quiet teams. They made only one trade, and still decided not to deal any of their starting pitching surplus.

Although there was very little action in Tampa’s front office, they did bolster the team’s lineup and defense to some extent when they acquired third baseman Ryan Roberts in a trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The deal was a smart one and pretty much a bargain; they traded minor league 2B Tyler Bortnick—who’ll likely never be an effective Major Leaguer— in exchange for the 31-year-old.

With Evan Longoria out the Rays did fill in one empty hole by picking up Roberts. Longo is returning to the lineup soon, but it could be a while before he’s able to play third base again, which is why I think the Roberts deal was an important move. The Rays’ other options at third are not as good and have really hurt the infield’s defense in the past.

Besides for the defensive upgrade, Roberts will likely improve the Rays’ offense as well. He’s not exactly a consistent base-hitter who hits for a good (or even decent) average, but he has some pop in his right-handed bat and can be an x-factor in the lineup at times.

The third base hole may be covered now, but I felt like the Rays missed out on a good opportunity to add a much-needed catcher to the roster. Kurt Suzuki, Ramon Hernandez and Geovany Soto were three catchers who were on the trade market at the deadline. The Red Sox were also looking to move a backstop having three on their roster (Shoppach, Lavarnway, Saltalamacchia).

Considering the Rays’ major issues at the catching position I really wanted to see the Rays pick up a catcher at the deadline. The Rays’ catchers (Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton) together have combined for a .206 average, 28 RBI and five home runs. So even mediocre catchers like some of the names above may have been an upgrade for the Rays.

Hopefully the Rays won’t regret that, but one decision that they will more likely regret is not trading for Marco Scutaro. Scutaro was dealt from the Rockies to the Giants in a deal that the Rays probably could have made. San Francisco received the 36-year-old and cash considerations in exchange for one prospect infielder who isn’t even considered a top-ten prospect in most organizations.

Scutaro’s .277/.330/.365 line is definitely better than Elliot Johnson’s .250/.316/.348 line or Sean Rodriguez’s awful .206/.269/.322 line. He’s also as good or better defensively than the two, and can cover third base and second base as well as shortstop. The Rays obviously have big problems at the shortstop position and acquiring Scutaro would probably fix them short-term. He’s a versatile infielder who gets on base and hits better than both of the Rays’ options at short.

Another decision I think the Rays could regret is not trading away an arm like Wade Davis or Alex Torres. It’s pretty clear that the Rays are in desperate need of offensive help, and it’s also pretty clear that Alex Torres doesn’t seem to have a bright future at all and Rays don’t really count on Wade Davis that often when the game’s on the line. Therefore, I didn’t really see the logic of the Rays not dealing at least one of these two.

Davis has done a very good job in the Rays’ bullpen this year, but he’s simply not a crucial part of the ‘pen and isn’t often used in high leverage situations. According to BaseballReference.com, only eight of his 35 appearances were considered to be high leverage situations, while 18 of them were low leverage. Also worthy of mentioning, prospect Alex Colome looks to be on track for a late season call-up and could have what it takes to replace at the long reliever position.

As for Torres, well, he’s just a guy the Rays probably want to get rid of. He has had a horrendous 2012 season, posting an 8.07 ERA with Triple-A Durham.

In conclusion, I think it’s safe to say that the Rays were a little too quiet at the 2012 trade deadline. It was nice to see them not sell and hang on to some big names like James Shields and B.J. Upton, but it was also a bit disappointing to see them not bolster the offense like many of us hoped they would.

Tampa Bay Rays: Buyers or Sellers?

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Will the Rays be buyers or sellers come the Trade Deadline July 31? Unless they fall to dead last in the AL East, there’s absolutely no way the Rays are going to sell. Tampa Bay currently stands just a game out of playoff position, and if we’ve learned anything from the past season, it’s that the Rays are a team definitely capable of overcoming that.

Just because the Rays will be buyers at the deadline, however, doesn’t mean they won’t sell off any major assets. James Shields is one name that could be on the trade market in the next couple of weeks, regardless to the Rays’ position in the standings.

Due to his contract situation, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody that Shields has been mentioned often in recent trade rumors. The Rays have a pricey $9 million option on the the 30-year-old right-hander next season, so if they don’t trade him away this month, they could lose him to free agency in the offseason. The Rays have three pitchers—Alex Cobb, Chris Archer and Wade Davis—who could all replace him in the rotation, and the Rays would likely bolster their offense with some major-league ready talent as well as some prospects.

With Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce healthy in the lineup the Rays’ offense is much better than it than it’s been in the past month, but some disappointing performances from other bats in the lineup so far this season give the Rays a good reason to deal an arm for a bat. The Rays definitely see themselves competing this October, and they likely could be active at the deadline to give themselves the upgrade they need. There are a handful of teams out there that would love to add Shields to their rotation, the question will be how much the Rays are willing to deal him.

Shields is not the only arm that could be used as trade bait to bring in a bat. Alex Cobb and prospects like Chris Archer, Alex Torres and Alex Colome are other possibilities.

The Rays are reportedly seeking a young catcher and [relief] pitching. They’re also looking at shortstops and likely a corner outfield/DH right-handed power bats such a Alfonso Soriano, who has been all over trade rumors in the past month and could be a possibility for the Rays. The Rays could really use somebody like him who could platoon with both Matt Joyce and Luke Scott, who are both left-handed hitters.

The Rays are in it to win in 2012, and signing Soriano would really help the short-term cause.

After Shields, B.J. Upton is the next big name to be subject to trade rumors this year. There’s been Upton trade talks every July for the past three years, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out this year as he becomes a free agent after the season. Assuming the Rays won’t become sellers by July 31, however, it seems unlikely that they’ll trade him.

Why the Rays Should Not Trade B.J. Upton

20120615-111216.jpgOver the past few years, B.J. Upton’s name has been subject to countless trade rumors. It seems like every time the trade deadline or offseason approaches one big question remains: will the Rays deal Upton?

The MLB trade deadline is now just a little over a month away, which means the Upton-trade talk will soon begin to flare up again. Although an Upton trade is definitely a possibility, I don’t think the Rays will deal him, and there are great reasons why.

If one thing’s for sure, the Rays are in it to win it this season. Tampa is confident that they have a team with what it takes to go all the way in October, and trading away one of their key pieces would not make a whole lot of sense, even considering the circumstances regarding Upton’s contract.

Although Upton has underachieved and hasn’t really met expectations in the last few years, a more extensive look into Upton clearly show how vital he is to the team’s success. Last year, he finished top thee on the team in RBI, WAR and home runs. In addition, he also lead the team with stolen bases (sparking a huge part of the Rays’ game) and provided the Rays with security by playing consistently good defense in center field.

His stats overall were not All-Star like, but the offensive production he provides to a linuep with limited power bats is absolutely crucial, which is what makes him more of a valuable player than his numbers show.

So why would the Rays trade B.J. Upton? Well, there obviously are credible reasons for doing so. Upton will be a free agent next year, and the money he’ll be asking for will likely be too much for the Rays to afford. The Rays also have a centerfield replacement for Upton in Desmond Jennings, who seems very capable of taking over at the position.

If the Rays do choose to trade him before the deadline, they’ll probably get some pretty good value from the 27-year-old. Upton has had a solid start to the 2012 season, batting .280/.327/.418, which is an improvement from last year’s .243 batting average. The good numbers probably would help Upton’s value if the Rays decided to trade him, but it also shows how important he is to the Rays’ lineup, which will likely not be one of the better ones in October (assuming they make it there).

The point is, the Rays could use every bit of offense they can get, and trading a bat away would most likely not help (probably hurt) the team in the short run. Long-term success is something that the front office always strives for, but we all know that winning a World Series this fall is the team’s ultimate goal when it’s all said and done.

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