All still is quiet on the acquisition front for the Tampa Bay Rays, though a couple players connected to the ball club in some capacity have found new homes in the National League.
Going, going, Geltz
The much maligned RHP Steve Geltz, who was designated for assignment by the Rays last week to make room on the 40-man roster, has been claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) November 28, 2016
Geltz put together a forgettable 2016 campaign, however, he offered the Rays two solid seasons previously.
Annyeong Erik Thames
The Brewers also made waves by signing free-agent OF/1B Erik Thames to a three-year, $16-million deal, with a team option for a fourth season, and a $1-million buyout. The deal is noteworthy because Thames, who played the last three seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization, was targeted as a platoon option at first base by the Rays.
To make room for Thames on the Brewers’ roster, National League home run co-leader, Chris Carter, was non-tendered and later designated for assignment by Milwaukee. The right-handed hitting Carter hit 41 home runs in 2016, and made $2.5-million with Milwaukee — an amount that would be a steal for Tampa Bay. However, as Bob Nightengale (USA Today Sports) was quick to point out, the arbitration eligible first baseman could earn more than $9-million next season, putting him well out of the reach of the Rays.
Chris Carter becomes one of finest power-hitters on market after #Brewers decide to non-tender him instead of paying likely $9-$10M in arbit
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) November 29, 2016
Jim Bowden, what in God’s name were you thinking?!
Finally, former GM and current ESPN baseball insider, Jim Bowden, again proved why he truly isn’t one of the more respected analysts in the game on Tuesday, when he wrote about trades he would like to see before the Winter Meetings. Bowden’s blockbuster deal would take place between the Rays and the Cubs, and Tampa Bay would receive OF Alex Almora, OF/2B Ian Happ, OF Jorge Soler, and RHP Carl Edwards for RHP Chris Archer, OF Kevin Kiermaier, and RHP Alex Colome.
Bowden’s reasoning is somewhat baffling:
The Rays get three everyday players who are all non-arbitration-eligible. They get a long-term solution at second base with Happ, who is a high-OBP hitter with the potential to hit 15-18 homers and steal bases. Soler would get the opportunity to play every day, and if he does, he’ll be projected to hit 20-25 home runs. Almora would take over center field as a plus-plus defender while Edwards can replace Alex Colome as the Rays’ closer. The deal will also save the Rays approximately $50 million in future salaries for both players during their control years, which is extremely important — at least until they get a new stadium.
I’m inclined to side with Jared Ward (DRaysBay), who broke down the proposed deal, that would give the Rays little in return. First off, Archer isn’t arbitration eligible, due to the contract he signed in 2014 which bought out his arbitration years, and a couple of free agent seasons. What’s more, Kiermaier could make his first trip through arbitration this offseason, where he is projected to earn $2.1-million by MLB Trade Rumors — a minor dent in the Rays’ payroll. And if he doesn’t go through arbitration, The Outlaw would make approximately $500-thousand next season.
Among other reasons, if the Rays are “hellbent” on being competitive in 2017, why in God’s name would they trade three key players, who combined for an 8 fWAR in 2016 (a cumulative 29.5 fWAR), for four players — of whom just one could possibly be depended upon as an everyday player at the Major League level? If the Rays were to trade some variation of Bowden’s fabulous three, they likely would do better trading each individually.
I’ve said it before but I will again, if Tampa Bay is going to trade anyone, it is more plausible for Senior VP of Baseball Operations, and General Manager, Erik Neander to deal LHP Drew Smyly, who is projected to earn $6.9-million through arbitration this offseason.