ST. PETERSBURG -- Amid the fans at Tropicana Field were scouts from other teams in the market for pitching. The Rays have just what other teams are looking for to push them over the top.Friday night they were in the house to watch Chris Archer, who pitched well while taking
ST. PETERSBURG -- Amid the fans at Tropicana Field were scouts from other teams in the market for pitching. The Rays have just what other teams are looking for to push them over the top.
Friday night they were in the house to watch Chris Archer, who pitched well while taking the loss. Saturday night they arrived to watch Matt Moore, who has been on a roll lately. Sunday they'll return to watch Jake Odorizzi.
Any of the three could be the pitcher to push a team over the top for a playoff run. But at what price? And which of the group is most coveted?
Archer has the stuff to be a No. 1. Even though he's having a down season, scouts still say he still has the kind of stuff to catch one's attention. Given that status, it's likely he would be the most expensive pitcher to acquire from the Rays -- and probably the least likely to be traded.
Odorizzi has had a consistent body of work over the past two years, though he projects more as a middle of the rotation guy.
Finally, there's Moore, who showed great stuff during Spring Training, went into a tailspin at the beginning of the season, then picked it up. Heading into Saturday night's start he'd gone at least six innings in seven consecutive starts and had shown good command and elevated velocity.
Among the teams that could use a pitcher are the Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays, Yankees, Rangers, Dodgers, Pirates, Marlins, Mets and Astros.
The question of the day concerning the Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays and Yankees is: Would the Rays consider making a deal with a division rival from the American League East?
Yu Darvish returned to the Rangers on Saturday, making his first start since June 8. He allowed two runs while striking out nine in 4 1/3 innings against the Cubs.
Still, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels has stated that upgrading their pitching staff would be his focus as the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches. And the Rangers have been active in talks with the Rays, according to a report by MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
The Marlins and the Mets appear to be legitimate suitors, but both organizations might lack the necessary prospects needed to land Moore or Odorizzi.
The Marlins' recent trade of talented Class A right-hander Chris Paddack to the Padres for Fernando Rodney further thinned their system. The Mets are unlikely to trade blue-chip shortstop prospect Amed Rosario. However, outfielder Brandon Nimmo, the New York's No. 4 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com, might be of interest to the Rays.
As for the Pirates, would they consider trading prospects to help them acquire a pitcher who might be the difference in earning a Wild Card berth that would place them in the familiar one-and-done playoff situation?
Finally, there's the Dodgers, who have former Rays GM Andrew Friedman running the show. He's familiar with Archer, Moore, and Odorizzi. Last year at this time the Dodgers had a healthy Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke and hoped to bring in a front-line starter. Flash forward a year and Kershaw is on the disabled list and Greinke plays for the Diamondbacks.
While it's definitely a sellers' market, the Rays aren't tipping their hand. However, the number of scouts in the stands does indicate other teams indeed are shopping. What happens in the next couple of weeks should come down to whether they have the tender the Rays desire.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.