ST. PETERSBURG -- Trade season is upon us, and given the Rays' position in the American League East standings entering their final game in June, they have the look of sellers.Earlier in the week, president of baseball operations Matt Silverman told reporters he wasn't ready to raise a white flag
ST. PETERSBURG -- Trade season is upon us, and given the Rays' position in the American League East standings entering their final game in June, they have the look of sellers.
Earlier in the week, president of baseball operations Matt Silverman told reporters he wasn't ready to raise a white flag on the season even though he was "very dissatisfied" with the way the team has performed. But reality is reality, and save for an improbable run of wins prior to the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Rays will most likely have to turn the corner and look toward 2017.
That means assessing the roster and deciding who should go, who should stay, areas in which they are well-stocked and areas where they aren't.
Looking at the Rays' balance sheet, starting pitching is the team's greatest asset -- even if that has been an underperforming asset to date.
Currently, the starting rotation includes: Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Matt Moore, Drew Smyly and Blake Snell. Residing in the bullpen are two other qualified starters in Erasmo Ramirez and Matt Andriese. Also, Alex Cobb and Chase Whitley will be returning from Tommy John surgery in August. Don't forget that pushing from down on the farm system are the likes of Jaime Schultz, Taylor Guerrieri and Jacob Faria.
So it's no surprise that rumors are already out there connecting the Dodgers to Ramirez -- ostensibly as a starter, and the Rangers and other clubs to Moore.
If the Rays indeed are interested in becoming sellers, the Dodgers make sense, even if they did pick up Bud Norris from Atlanta on Thursday. With Clayton Kershaw on the DL for an unspecified time, they have to be asking themselves if Norris, Kenta Maeda, Scott Kazmir, Julio Urias and Brock Stewart are enough to get the team through the coming weeks without their ace.
Meanwhile, the Rays must be asking themselves if they really want to move Ramirez, who easily was the team's most valuable player early in the season and one of their most consistent starters in 2015.
Ramirez has been in a little funk lately, but the bulk of his work for the team has been solid. He makes $2.37 million this season and is eligible for his second year of arbration after the season. He is not eligible to become a free agent until after the 2019 season.
Moore, who returned from Tommy John surgery last year, scuffled earlier this season. After posting a 1-2 record with a 3.66 ERA in April, Moore went 1-1 with a 7.36 ERA in five May starts. Lately, he is trending in the right direction. He was 2-2 with a 3.72 ERA in five June starts and has pitched six-plus innings in each of those outings.
Like Ramirez, Moore has a club-friendly contract that allows the team to control him for three additional seasons for $26 million. Are Moore's struggles behind him? That's the question other teams must decide before pitching possible trade deals to the Rays for Moore's services.
As for other players on the roster, will the Rays decide to part ways with Evan Longoria? The face of the franchise has rejuvenated his career this season and would look good penciled into any number of lineups. Steve Pearce would also make a nice acquisition for a club looking for an offensive piece. The only problem comes in the fact he's currently on the DL with a strained right hamstring.
The coming month should be of great interest to Rays fans, and the only certainties are that the club will listen to any and all offers for any players. And its front office will not react in a knee-jerk fashion.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.