After the recent addition of Rockies OF Corey Dickerson, it seems that the Tampa Bay Rays are not done making moves this off-season.
We’ve speculated that the Rays were looking to move either James Loney or perhaps Desmond Jennings; and given the current status of their 40 man roster, moving one or both of these players now seems imperative. If the Rays could move Loney, who is slotted to make 8 million in 2016, it would free up some payroll for the Rays to make a serious play for free agent SS and Sarasota native Ian Desmond. Desmond has expressed interest in signing with the Rays, he is good friends with Rays OF Steven Souza and is represented by Sports One Athlete Management, the same agency that represents Rays manager Kevin Cash.
The cost of signing Desmond to a 1 year deal means the Rays would have to give up the #13 pick in the 2016 draft. Most MLB clubs, including the Rays, highly covet draft picks. Are Stu Sternberg and Matt Silverman willing to roll the dice and go against the grain on 30 year old Desmond looking to bounce back from a substandard ’15 season? Why not? The Rays have most of their young starting pitchers locked up for the foreseeable future with the exception of Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly (free agents in ’18), as well as a plethora of young pitching prospects in their farm system. Signing a player with Desmond’s athletic upside could make the Rays serious contenders in the A.L. East this year. He would also bridge the gap for the incumbent David Robertson, who most believe is just a year away from being “big league ready”. Acquiring Desmond would of course relegate recently acquired INF Brad Miller (.258 11HR and 46RBI in 144 games in ’15) back to his usual “super utility” role.
Either way, the clock is ticking for the Rays to make a play on Ian Desmond. The Chicago White Sox are reportedly highly interested in Desmond as well, since losing their shortstop to the free agent market (Alexei Ramirez to Padres 1yr 4million). Whether Desmond is in the Rays future plans or not, there is one thing clear: There is definitely something in the works for the Rays as we approach Spring Training. As always we’ll keep you posted as this story develops.