Hot-Stove: Wil Myers, Ryan Hanigan Headed to San Diego in Three-Team Trade

Myers

The centerpiece of the James Shields/Wade Davis trade is headed to San Diego with Ryan Hanigan.

The Rays — unexpectedly — just completed a three team trade of Wil Myers and Ryan Hanigan with the San Diego Padres and Washington Nationals. The deal is pending physicals of all the players involved, and final confirmation from the Rays.

Per a tweet from Ken Rosenthal, SS Trea Turner (SD) and RHP Joe Ross (SD) are headed to the Nationals, OF Wil Myers (TB), C Ryan Hanigan (TB), and C Jose Castillo (TB) are headed to the Padres, and OF Steven Souza (WA), LHP Travis Ott (WA), C Rene Rivera (SD), RHP Burch Smith (SD), and 1B Jake Bauers (SD) are headed to the Rays*. (Players previous teams are in parenthesis) Overall, the Rays are netting five players for two big leaguers and a minor league prospect (Castillo) who, incidentally, received an honorable mention in Keith Law’s top-ten prospects piece last season.

The immediate reaction: the team flipped Myers for Souza and Hanigan for Rivera, allowing the Rays to wipe $8M off the books — Hanigan was to earn $3.5M in 2015 and $3.7M 2016, and his contract also boasted an $800K buyout on his $3.75M option for 2017. Furthermore, the Padres are giving the Rays two decent prospects with major league trajectories, while the Nationals are handing over a player in Souza who projects to be a top hitting prospect. For the detractors of the deal, there really isn’t a certainty that Myers would bounce back from his down year, something Marc Topkin touched on previously,

…Some combination of concern over his ability to reach his potential and a sense of maximizing his remaining value to restock their system with premium prospects led them to at least strongly consider doing just that, potentially continuing what has been an extensive remake of the roster under new baseball operations president Matt Silverman. …Teams always know their own players best, so if the Rays are willing to move Myers – as it certainly seems – there must be some questions, whether talent, health, work ethic, consistency, potential.

Still, the three-team trade has its share of pitfalls. Minus the obvious — that Tampa Bay dealt the centerpiece of the James Shields/Wade Davis trade, and the catcher who was thought to be the Rays catcher of the near-future — Souza hasn’t quite passed the seeing-eye test, while there’s the question whether the 31 year-old Rivera (a career .228 BA/.279 OBP/.358 SLG/.587 OPS hitter) can repeat his big 2014 season. Without fully analyzing the deal**, this trade tends to leave an immediate bitter taste in the mouth.

I can’t help but wonder how this will help the team in the here and now? The Rays, who were strapped for a backup catcher and a productive bat previous to Wednesday afternoon’s deal, are now potentially down a full-time catcher and two big bats. While the Silverman/Bloom/Neander brain-trust is doing what Friedman wouldn’t dare, there’s an impetuous anxiety inside revolving around one simple question: When will Silverman acquire players who will bolster the lineup?  The elephant in the room begs to be acknowledged and answered.

Noteworthiness

  • Your tweet of the day:

* The Rays may include a second minor leaguer. If so, Gerardo Reyes would go as well.
** Expect lots of analysis to follow.

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Hot-Stove: The Tampa Bay Rays and the Elusive DH, Matt Joyce Traded, Wil Myers Trade Rumors

The Tampa Bay Rays traded outfielder Matt Joyce to the Halos for right-handed reliever Kevin Jepsen. (Mandatory photo credit is watermarked)

The Tampa Bay Rays traded outfielder Matt Joyce to the Halos for right-handed reliever Kevin Jepsen. (Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports)

Heads up, we are chronically updating this piece to account for the massive developments (and trade rumors) surrounding the Rays over the last few days. Keep checking back — there will undoubtedly be some updated information below.

Thx,
MGMT

Thanks to Ian and The Rays Tank for the piece on the DH search and Matt Joyce below. The news of the day follows the piece on the Rays and the aforementioned search for a designated hitter.

The Tampa Bay Rays and the Elusive DH, by Ian Welsh

The Rays have had a horrid history of designated hitter signings. Names like Luke Scott, Pat Burrell, Manny Ramirez, Hank Blalock ring of mediocrity. Sure the Rays had signings like Damon and Floyd, who in their own way, did a solid job for the team.

However, the Rays had their worst idea yet last year — an oration of Matt Joyce, Wil Myers, and Sean Rodriguez at DH. Joyce — no longer with the Rays (you can read more on that below) — had always been streaky. While he posted solid numbers through one part of the season, Joyce became an automatic pop-up out machine in another. The same could be said for Rodriguez. And Myers, who had a down season, found himself man handled by pitchers who figured him out. It doesn’t help that he was injured for much of the season. 

When players like Longoria, Myers, or Escobar have a down — or injury plagued — year, a presence of someone who can produce runs is much-needed in the lineup.

Despite the fact they were toward the bottom of the league in homers, slugging percentage, and OPS, Tampa Bay actually did a decent job — taking into consideration the down power numbers, and injuries to both the position players and pitchers. While they were in the top of the league in runners left on base, they were in contention (technically) until the last week-and-a-half of the season.

 Suffice it to say, the Rays need a consistent power presence — someone who has some pop — and someone who can move the runners from station-to-station.

Tampa did better with contact hitters in the DH role. Guys like Johnny Damon and Cliff Floyd didn’t have particularly impressive power numbers, but they hit the gaps and culled together extra base hits, driving in runners in the process. Floyd hit .268 with an .804 OPS, 13 doubles and 39 RBI 80 games with the Rays in 2008. To be fair, that is a small sample size. On the other hand, Damon did particularly well with the Rays in 2011, hitting .261, with 152 hits, 16 homers, seven triples, and 29 doubles. Damon drove in 73 runs along the way, while posting a healthy .352 OBP. 

Unfortunately two things have plagued the Rays in what has amounted to their fruitless quest for a solid DH: the market is either always dead, or the players on the market are overpriced. The Rays can’t afford to throw lots of money at a big power hitter, and the cheap guys aren’t the answer for this team. If a masher isn’t readily available, a run producer — by way of consistent contact — might just be the best option for Tampa Bay. The question begs: what options do the Rays have — either organizationally or on the free-agent market?

Allan Dykstra

Tampa Bay signed Allan Dykstra to a minor league contract early in the off-season. While he hasn’t made his major league debut, he has put together solid minor league numbers. Dykstra has won a multitude of awards, including the Sterling Minor League Organizational player of the year, awards in college, and the Eastern League Player of the year. His career minor league line of .257 BA/.452 SLG doesn’t sound great, but he has made a steady progression since — going from a .241 BA in 2010 with 122 strikeouts and 78 walks and 26 extra base hits in 113 games, to hitting .280 while lowering his K%, and increasing his BB% and power numbers over the past three seasons. His plate discipline and presence of power is an intriguing option for the team.

But what else is out there for Tampa? Mike Morse, who fans had expected the Rays to look into, signed with the Marlins today. A favorite of mine, the Rays are now forced to look elsewhere.

Corey Hart

Corey Hart had a down year last season with the Mariners, thanks in part to injuries. Prior to 2014 however, he was a first baseman that made consistent solid contact. Hitting .271 with his time with the Brewers, Hart crushed 154 homers and posted a .480 SLG. The Rays could use the RHH Hart as a platoon player with James Loney as well. Moreover, he is a right-handed power-hitter with a .290 career batting average against LHP.

Rafael Furcal

Rafael Furcal would be another interesting pick up. Furcal had a dismal 2014 with the Marlins. He’s had a series of injuries over the past few years, which could make him a perfect candidate to throw into the DH role. His career numbers point to a similar player like Damon. Furcal is an aging player who may have some production left in the tank, but not enough to be an everyday player — especially in the Rays crowded infield. Furcal is a contact hitter, with a lower strike rate, who can get on base. A veteran with postseason experience, the Rays could land Furcal for a relatively small amount of money — somewhere in the ballpark of $1.5M – $2M for a year contract.

Delmon Young

Delmon Young, a player drafted by the Rays, made a postseason runs with detroit in 2012, Tampa Bay in 2013, and the Orioles in 2014. Young is a player we watched bring some life to the club when he debuted with Tampa Bay, and subsequently brought us pieces that helped the Rays start their winning ways when he was traded to the Minnesota Twins for Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett. Young had a respectable 2014, hitting .302 with a .337 OBP and a .422 SLG. The former Ray — twice over — spent majority of the season on the field, which wasn’t the case with Tampa Bay in 2013. Our outfield is filled. Odds are good he’d be relegated to the DH role, which would help keep him healthy. He’s been cheap that last few seasons, so a $1M contract wouldn’t be out of the question.

A.J. Pierzynski

A.J. Pierzynski has been linked to Tampa a few times. A catalyst to brawls and rivalries with Tampa Bay, Pierzynski could be a good piece for the Rays. He is still able to “catch,” however the Rays just got rid of Jose Molina who was widely seen as a liability behind the plate. Pierzynski spent time as the DH in Boston last season before being traded to St. Louis. He is coming off a season that saw him hit just .251, however that’s a season removed from his 2013 campaign when he hit .288 with 17 home runs, 70 runs batted. Pierzynski would cost more than the rest of the pack, but with his career reaching towards its end, the Rays could pick up Pierzynski in the $4M range, and get a seasoned veteran with power and postseason experience.

Tampa Bay could also go the trade route with the surplus of minor league arms, outfielders, and infielders within the organization. 

Names like Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Howard have been bandied about, and both the Phillies and Yankees have made it known they’d like to unload these players. With the right trade and money included, the Rays could get some bigger help at a replacement player cost. Both players have their caveats and downsides, but the raw power from both could bring big dividends for the Rays.

Of course the biggest concern is that neither fit the Rays typical risk/reward modus operandi. Tampa Bay would have to deal players like David DeJesus or Desmond Jennings — both of whom trade rumors have circulated around — or young talent which both teams desperately need.

Rodriguez is a polarizing and much derided player — a source of unnecessary drama both on and off the field. Though Rodriguez does have upside, albeit in the twilight of his career. Tampa has taken players linked to PEDs previously, namely Ramriez and Jose Canseco — two players who’ve had similar issues follow them. Unlike those two players, however, Rodriguez has tangible value. As a pure DH, Rodriguez could bring a much-needed power presence…though to be fair, it is unknown how much of that power has been aided by steroids, and how much pop he still has. We do know that he brings and intimidating presence, and if he can bring some semblance of his former power he’d look good slotted in between Myers and Longoria.

Howard’s biggest concerns surround his health, and his bloated contract Howard with the Phillies. Howard has had a few down years due to injuries and excessive strikeout rates. Yet his presence and raw power do draw respect from opposing pitchers. The addition of Howard could bring Longoria some solid protection.

There are options out there. Silverman and crew will let the hammer drop soon, though it’s a matter of time until we see the route they choose to take.

On Matt Joyce Being Traded to the Angels for RHPR Kevin Jepsen

In other news, the Rays have traded outfielder Matt Joyce to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for RHPR Kevin Jepsen. Joyce has been a fan favorite, but he never lived up to the potential he showed in 2011 — his All-Star season. Since he hit for low batting averages, increased strikeout rates, and a drastic reduction in power. The projected $4.9M contract (after arbitration) wasn’t worth the risk for Silverman and the Rays.

Jepsen has a big arm with a mid-90’s fastball. With the news that Jake McGee will start the season on the DL, after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his pitching elbow, Jepsen could be the stop-gap for Tampa Bay while McGee mends. A back-end reliever, Jepsen brings the ability to eat up innings. He also brings a strong K/9 which will undoubtedly be aided by Tropicana Field.

The benefits of the trade are two-fold:

    1. The Rays save money.
    2. Tampa Bay gets two years of arbitration control in Jepsen (this was Joyce’s last year of arbitration eligibility).

Joyce tweeted his appreciation of the Rays and the Tampa Bay fans after the news broke,

I can’t thank the Rays organization enough for giving me the opportunity to play at home for the last six years. It has been such an amazing experience to live out my dream in front of my family, friends and our tremendously supportive fans. I will miss you guys! Looking forward, I’m excited to start a new journey with the LA Angels and play next to some of the best players in the game!

On the Wil Myers Trade Rumors

Are the Tampa Bay Rays trading Wil Myers? Ken Rosenthal and Jeff Passan seem to think so. According to Rosenthal, the Rays and Padres are discussing a massive deal which would include the much ballyhooed Rays outfielder. It should be noted, Myers drew interest from about a half-dozen other teams during the 2015 Winter Meetings. The former Rookie of the Year’s contract will remain affordable for a long time, and he’s coming off an injury plagued down year, calling into question Myers’ trade value.

Roger Mooney (Tampa Tribune) added perspective to the once far fetched and now potential move, tweeting,

“Silverman said earlier this month (the) team is close to having (a) functional roster for 2015 but would “explore substantial changes.”

Another element in the talks on Wil Myers — there is a possibility of a third team, and thus even more names could be included. The Mariners are said to be looking for the acquisition of a bat (as are the Rays) and they might be in on what could pan out to be a major West Coast swap. According to Marc Topkin, the talks with the Padres have included their top catching prospect, Austin Hedges, though San Diego is apparently exploring several other options — and nothing with the Rays and Myers is close enough for a deal. Whatever the case, it’s hard to speculate anything without knowing all of the players targeted, all of the teams involved — or whether the trade rumor will even come to fruition or not. The safest assumption at this point, if something does come of the rumors, the cost to the Padres and/or potentially other team(s) connected could be astronomical. We’ll keep you posted if or when any news breaks.

Noteworthiness

  • We haven’t had a spare moment to write anything about the newest Ray, RHPR Kevin Jepsen — acquired from the Angels in Tuesday’s Matt Joyce trade. Thankfully our friends at DRaysBay have. Check out Ian’s piece here, and we’ll post one of our own shortly…or when the dust settles.
  •  A couple of nuggets on the Myers trade front: Per Ken Rosenthal, If the SD-TB trade goes through, RHP prospects Matt Wisler and Joe Ross would logically be part of the Rays return. If Washington is involved, as Jeff Passan suggests, OF Steven Souza is a name to watch. Per Marc Topkin, “…Some combination of concern over his ability to reach his potential and a sense of maximizing his remaining value to restock their system with premium prospects led them to at least strongly consider doing just that, potentially continuing what has been an extensive remake of the roster under new baseball operations president Matt Silverman. …Teams always know their own players best, so if the Rays are willing to move Myers – as it certainly seems – there must be some questions, whether talent, health, work ethic, consistency, potential.”
  • “The Rays are down to two scenarios, depending on whether the Nationals are in or out. Either way, Tampa Bay is said to give up Wil Myers, Ryan Hanigan, and two low minor-leaguers, and get back in return C René Rivera, P Burch Smith, and 1B Jake Bauers from the Padres. Then, if Washington is involved, Tampa Bay would get OF Steven Souza and a Class-A LHP. If the Nationals are out, the Rays are said to get RHP Joe Ross and Trea Turner from San Diego.

    Trea Turner was a Padres first-round pick, so if he was in the Rays or Nationals deal, he would have to be a player to be named later.” (Source Marc Topkin)

  • Marc Topkin’s 3:25 update: The Rays are expected to trade Myers today or Thursday, with details regarding the number of players and teams in the deal still being discussed.

    However it works out, it seems likely the Rays will end up with several Padres players – though not Hedges – and with Souza, who was the Triple-A International League MVP for Washington’s Syracuse team. Jeff Passan of Yahoo reported that the Rays may include C Ryan Hanigan in the deal and would get back C Rene Rivera.

    While the Rays are considering larger versions of the deal, they are not discussing including either of their top veterans, INF/OF Ben Zobrist or 3B Evan Longoria.

    Myers, meanwhile, didn’t seem too concerned about the rumors, posting on his Twitter account at 2:32: “Another workout in the books. #offseason.”

  • According to Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan, in the proposed Wil Myers deal, Rays talked about sending Ryan Hanigan to Padres, and getting back Rene Rivera.
  •  Because it’s easier to post tweets at the moment:
    • I’ve heard the phrase “fire sale” bandied about when discussing the trade of Myers. Here are a couple of things to chew on. First, besides the lesser amount of pop in his bat, Mikie Mahtook looks like a more well rounded player – both in the box and in the field.Secondly, Some number of the players received (by the Rays) are expected to be flipped to the Nationals for OF Steven Souza.After boasting a .421 wOBA and 161 wRC+ in 2013 with the Nationals’ Double-A squad, Souza was promoted to Triple-A and bested those numbers, with a .448 wOBA and 180 wRC+ over 96 games, including career bests in home runs (18) and stolen bases (26).
    • Per reports, while the Rays are discussing several scenarios of bigger deals, neither Ben Zobrist nor Evan Longoria are involved — so there’s that.
    • Jeff Vinik has long said that he wants nothing to do with the Stadium — his newly released downtown (TPA) redevelopment plans reinforce that idea. I still don’t understand why people insist that he is going to cough up a piece of his land to build the Tampa Bay Rays a new stadium. In short, the Rays are a small market team, and small market teams typically break even. Why then would Vinik throw his hat into the ring, and become what essentially amounts to the Rays landlord, if he isn’t going to pull a profit? People, stop connecting dots that aren’t there! Read more about Vinik’s waterfront plans at Noah Pransky’s Shadow of the Stadium blog.

     

     

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    “It’s go time!” Kevin Cash Formally Introduced as the Rays Manager

    New manager Kevin Cash with Matt Silverman in the introductory presser this afternoon. (Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays)

    New manager Kevin Cash and Rays President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman addressed those in attendance at the introductory presser this afternoon. (Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays)

    The Tampa Bay Rays formally (read: FINALLY) introduced new Skipper Kevin Cash, in an afternoon presser at The Trop — hitting coach Derek Shelton, RHP Jake Odorizzi, and ex-Devil Ray Toby Hall were among those on hand in the audience.

    Over the span of the introductory presser, Cash raved about the organization saying,

    “I’m extremely excited about the energy and the optimism that everybody I’ve been fortunate enough to speak with has presented,” Cash said. “I’m thrilled with the opportunity to work with them.”

    Continuing by mentioning,

    “It’s an incredible honor to be named a major-league manager, and I don’t think you can quantify getting to do that in your home town,” Cash said. “It’s incredibly special. And a joy to get back home.”

    Eager to meet more of the staff, Cash and Matt Silverman will meet this week with an expectation to have the coaching staff finalized in the next few days. A desire by the team to promote from within, the need to add a Spanish speaker to the staff, and the option of having at least one more coach to throw batting practice are all potential factors in the hiring of a bench coach.

    Of the many scenarios being talked about, shifting 3B coach Tom Foley to bench duties and filling that opening instead. Longtime Triple-A manager Charlie Montoyo has also gotten strong support from some in the organization, while ex-player Rocco Baldelli could be an interesting outside-the-box hire to add a bright mind to the staff. Then again, “Another option is to go outside for someone sharp who has coaching but not managing experience,” writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, “with former Devil Ray Eduardo Perez and current Royals coach Pedro Grifol — both, like Cash, FSU products — among many possibilities.” There’s also the question whether Cash gets to hire one of his own guys.

    As it relates to that very question, Cash noted,

    It’s probably most important to get the best coaches to connect with our players.

    In the end, Cash was concise in his summation of where he’ll go from here, “It’s go time!”

    You can view the press conference in its entirety below.

    Noteworthiness

    • Looks like former Ray Cole Figueroa found another job in the AL East:
    • Per Topkin, if the Rays do promote Montoyo, the likely in-house candidate to replace him in Durham is Jared Sandberg, who managed last year at Class A Charlotte.
    • The Rays continue their discussions on a trade or two. An experienced reliever or two is expected be added on minor-league deals. The Phillies are expected to eat most of the $60 million owed to Ryan Howard, who still could be of interest to the Rays.
    • “Scripting a plan for spring training will be more important than usual,” writes Topkin. “Cash will use the six weeks to build the relationships and trust with players he so values and speaks incessantly of, and the month of exhibition games to learn how, and how best, he will manage a game.”

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    How the Rays Are Playing Hardball…and Winning (Re-Posted From SOTS)

    Tropicana Field, as seen from the front row in the Upper Reserved section. (Photo courtesy of Augies Panoramas)

    Tropicana Field, as seen from the front row in the Upper Reserved section. (Photo courtesy of Augies Panoramas)

    Noah Pransky’s Shadow of the Stadium blog never fails to impress me. Noah, by way of his blog, continuously reaches past the headlines in his attempt to shed light on the Stadium Saga — consistently asking questions that Joe Q. Public might not even think to mention. He posted another excellent article Sunday afternoon, and I felt the need to re-post the piece in its entirety (below). And while I made a gallant attempt to write an introduction for the article, I think Pransky summed things up perfectly,

    What St Pete may not realize is that it still holds all the cards in the Rays Stadium negotiations…and it could be the last time any city does for a very very long time.

    How the Rays Are Playing Hardball…and Winning, by Noah Pransky

    Great piece from the Trib’s Chris O’Donnell this morning on how the Rays were able to negotiate the price of “making St. Pete whole” down to somewhere in the $20-30 million range (less when you factor inflation), despite a fairly ironclad contract with a whopping 13 years left on it.

    The story points out how Seattle ultimately got a $45 million settlement when the Sonics left their less-ironclad lease just two years early.  But this week’s deal has been considered “fair” because St. Pete seems ready to move past baseball and the Rays weren’t going to budge:

    The amount of compensation is a compromise, Kriseman said — less than the city asked for but more than the Rays wanted to pay. Sports economists say the Rays bargained well.

    “We have immense challenges ahead of us,” said Rays President Brian Auld. “Had these payments been significantly higher, they would prohibit us from being able to do a new deal; they could be crippling to whatever business needs we had going into a new ballpark.” 

    Indeed, the more the Rays ultimately pay to taxpayers, the less money they make…and they more they’ll need to ask of taxpayers in a new deal.  But “crippling” is poor descriptor given that MLB just hit $9 billion in revenue this year.

    Judging from previous reports of what the Rays and former mayor Bill Foster were negotiating, it would seem the team’s hardball tactics worked well.  The current mayor, Rick Kriseman, acknowledged at Tuesday’s press conference that he would have loved to have gotten more, but he didn’t feel like he had the leverage.  He couldn’t even get the team to pay for the right to look at stadium sites in Tampa,one of his original campaign promises.

    Reaction has been mixed: the Times’ John Romano said the money stinks, but the deal was necessary.  SaintPetersblog’s Peter Schorsch wrote St. Pete is basically getting screwed.

    Of course, the revelation that the Rays won’t consider a single change to the negotiated deal only bolsters the idea that they’re going to keep playing hardball.  They’re basically giving an ultimatum that they won’t re-negotiate anymore and if council rejects this deal, they won’t keep trying to make a new stadium happen over the course of the next 13 years?!?

    That’s silly.  Which is why the city may not realize it, but it still holds all the cards in this negotiation.

    I’ve written ad nauseum about Kriseman’s tough challenge of satisfying both his taxpayers and a team that doesn’t want to compensate them.  He could have waited the team out until they caved to better terms…but the team played its public relations cards well and forced the city to bend.

    How should council vote this Thursday?  I cannot say.  It’s a big decision.

    But this may be the last time a municipality has the upper-hand in negotiating with the Rays.  Even Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn acknowledged what’s coming next:

    You have to wonder if the Rays’ setting their price, playing hardball, then letting public opinion turn in their favor will repeat itself in Hillsborough County too.

    If the team/league finds a piece of land they like in Tampa, will theythreatmonger and fearmonger because the city and county aren’t immediately willing to hand over hunderds of millions of dollars?

    It wouldn’t be MLB’s first time.

    Noteworthiness

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    Hot-Stove: Rays Leave the Winter Meetings, Rule 5 Draft, Etc

    Luis Urena, one of two players the Rays picked up in the Rule 5 Draft, Thursday afternoon. (Photo courtesy of Pirates Prospects)

    Luis Urena, one of two players the Rays picked up in the Rule 5 Draft, Thursday afternoon. (Photo courtesy of Pirates Prospects)

    Despite the numerous conversations Rays’ representatives continued into Thursday — the last day of the 2015 Winter Meetings in San Diego, Matt Silverman and company headed back to St. Petersburg without the big bat they were seeking, and a second catcher to pair with Ryan Hanigan. Does that mean the team will head to Port Charlotte with the current 40-man roster intact? Not exactly.

    If Silverman’s quote in the Tampa Bay Times speaks to anything, it’s that something may be in the works between now and when pitchers and catchers report to camp,

    The conversations persist, the phone continues to ring and beep, but we’re still in the conversation phase on many aspects.

    Silverman continued,

    “We don’t expect to do anything when we come to these meetings. We expect to have conversations to learn more about other teams’ needs, to get a sense of how they value our players and potentially to lay the groundwork for deals. If something happens here it’s a bonus, but there are no expectations.”

    Now that a lot of big the moves have been made around the majors, teams will start to focus on the secondary market and that typically involves the Rays. Forget not, it was in the interim following the Winter Meetings that the Rays announced the trade of James Shields to the Kansas City Royals for Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi (among others) in 2012.

    While there weren’t any changes to the 40-man roster, the Rays did lose Class-A catching prospect Oscar Hernandez in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft of minor-leaguers. They hope there is chance they will see him again.

    Hernandez, who was impressive last season at low Class A Bowling Green, hitting .249 with nine home runs, 63 RBI, and a .301 OBP, was the top pick of the draft by Arizona Diamondbacks. Under MLB rules, he has to be kept in the big leagues for the entire season or offered back to the Rays for $25,000 — half the drafting fee. The likelihood of that happening is uncertain.

    On one hand, he was projected to move up only to advanced Class-A Charlotte in 2015, so it would be a bit of a stretch for him to play in the big leagues. Yet Arizona, who may not be in playoff contention this season, might be willing to weather any mishaps Hernandez may incur thanks to his lack of big league experience, and the transition from Single-A to the majors.

    Tampa Bay also lost another prospect, Triple-A starter Merill Kelly. Not seeing a future with the team, he is now off to the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO).

    The Rays made no picks in the major-league portion of the draft, however they picked up two players in the minor-league portion: Triple-A RHP Luis Urena (formerly of the Pirates) who Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics said was the number one player on their board, and RHP Michael O’Brien from the Orioles. Lukevics expects O’Brien to pitch at Double-A Montgomery.

    Noteworthiness

  • The Rays completed the Sean Rodriguez trade today by getting RHP Buddy Borden from the Pirates. Borden, 22, was 7-9 with a 3.16 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) with the Pirates’ Class-A affiliate last season. The Rays also announced they signed Seminole High School product C Bobby Wilson, Plant High School product OF Corey Brown, and INF/OF Eugenio Velez to minor league deals with spring training invites. You can read player bios for the newest Rays here, and we’ll have a write-up on the newest acquisitions shortly.
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