MIAMI -- In case you're wondering who those guys sitting behind home plate at Rays games are, they're scouts and representatives from different Major League organizations.Their purpose is to watch and see if they can find a player they think will help their club get to the postseason.Count Nathan Eovaldi
MIAMI -- In case you're wondering who those guys sitting behind home plate at Rays games are, they're scouts and representatives from different Major League organizations.
Their purpose is to watch and see if they can find a player they think will help their club get to the postseason.
Count Nathan Eovaldi on several teams' wish list. The right-hander started for the Rays Monday night and pitched in front of scouts or representatives from the Cubs, Phillies, Red Sox and Braves. All are contending teams hoping to fill a void they've identified.
The Rays have played well of late, which suggests they should try to keep the band together. Unfortunately, they are way behind in the American League Wild Card race, and even farther behind in the American League East.
Thus, Tampa Bay's prudent move in the weeks leading to Major League Baseball's July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline would be to get what they can from other teams in exchange for valuable pieces, such as Eovaldi, who becomes a free agent after the season.
Eovaldi is in the second year of a two-year deal with the Rays. He missed the first year of the contract while rehabbing from his second Tommy John surgery.
In addition to Eovaldi, the Rays' players of interest to contending teams include Matt Duffy, Chaz Roe, Wilson Ramos, Sergio Romo and Chris Archer.
Roe has experience changing teams. He's spent time with the Rockies, Mariners, D-backs, Rangers, Marlins, Yankees, Pirates, Orioles, Braves and Rays at some level. The right-hander can give a different look coming out of the bullpen, which is a valued asset for postseason play.
When asked how he handles trade rumors, Roe said he tunes them out.
"I try to stay focused and try to keep doing what I'm doing," Roe said. "Whatever happens, happens. I've been through that process before, and it does nobody good if you think about it. It can keep your mind wandering. Just try to stay focused, and keep your daily routine."
While he remains focused, Roe said it's unfortunate that the Rays aren't closer to contention.
"We're a good group of guys here," Roe said. "I think we're pretty close. And to have some guys probably end up leaving here is going to be hard. But it's part of baseball. And that's what it is."
Duffy echoed Roe's sentiments about letting trade rumors slide.
"I think it's a distraction if you let it be," Duffy said. "Basically you have two options. You can let it bother you, or you can come to the field every day [and] be a professional. Try and help the team win every day regardless of where you are or where people might think you'll be going. You just have to focus on that day."
Duffy, who has been traded once -- when the Giants sent him to the Rays in the Matt Moore deal -- allowed that the Rays are in a strange position. They are playing well, but being as far out in the standings as they are would seem to make them sellers. Like Roe, he'd like to see the Rays stay together.
"Obviously I do," Duffy said. "We've got a good mix in here. We're learning a lot of things. We're improving as a team. We're not just kind of spinning our wheels. I feel like we're showing some things the last couple of weeks. We're growing as a team, and anytime you have that you definitely want to keep it together. But at the same time, we all understand the situation."
Duffy said the mindset has to remain professional.
"Whatever happens, whether it's moves or people getting called up, you can't control that too much. You just have to play your game and be a professional," Duffy said.
The Rays entered Tuesday night's action 11 1/2 games out of the AL East race, and 11 1/2 games out of the Wild Card race. Would it be possible for the Rays to play themselves into contention?
"Nothing's impossible," Duffy said. "We're capable of going on hot streaks. We've shown that."
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.