After collecting intelligence at last week’s GM meetings, the Rays soon will launch their offseason mission of trading at least a couple of veterans to reduce payroll. The question is how far they will go — how many players they deal, and how big of names they are, with everyone in play on down from face-of-the-franchise 3B Evan Longoria. And the Rays won’t know until they start the process. Thinking they will only deal players they’d prefer to or can more easily replace isn’t a realistic plan. RHP Jake Odorizzi (projected via arbitration to make $6.5 million), OF/DH Corey Dickerson ($6.4M) and recovering-from-surgery INF Brad Miller ($4.4M) may not draw the interest or return to do so. The potential breakup of the roster could well be grander. Closer Alex Colome ($5.5M) figures to be a hot topic and likely to be dealt. And they will be open to trading just about all of their other higher-paid players, including Longoria (signed for $13.5M in 2018, up to $94M remaining overall), C Wilson Ramos ($10.5M), RHP Chris Archer ($6.25M, up to $34M overall) and SS Adeiny Hechavarria ($5M projected). Perhaps less likely are CF Kevin Kiermaier ($5.5M, up to $60M overall) and RF Steven Souza Jr. ($3.6M projected). Most difficult would be Longoria, and probably only with his blessing. The key looks to be the sequencing. If the Rays can make a couple of initial deals that cut salary and yield the right return, they could halt the sale and pivot to seeking a couple of additions and fielding an improved team. For example, even if they traded Longoria, Archer and Colome (shaving $25.5 million), they could try to fill in the pieces between what they have (Matt Duffy at third, young arms) and low-cost additions. Or they may start out and find the market robust to go for a total rebuild, dumping five or six veterans, opting for a young team with little chance to win now (with no apparent concern that doing so could impact stadium discussions) while looking to the future.
As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?
Tampa Bay Times | Nov 19