Rays happy with roster, will keep trade options open
Cash: 'The group of guys we have in here can definitely make a push'
ST. PETERSBURG -- Standing pat is not the sexiest option at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, yet it might be the prudent strategy for the Rays.
The Rays traded David DeJesus to the Angels, and president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said other trades could happen. It's just that those other trades aren't likely -- nor are they practical for Tampa Bay.
Despite a recent downturn in fortunes that has turned the Rays into a middle-of-the-pack team, they are still very much in the American League Wild Card race, and they are one Yankees tailspin from being back in the AL East race.
After winning two of three against the Tigers, the Rays stand at 51-52. The squad appears to have gained a second wind toward its remaining 59 games. Though gaining new players via trades doesn't look like it will be a part of the equation, help is on the way for the offense, as well as for the rotation.
Desmond Jennings begins a rehab assignment with Triple-A Durham on Friday, and he is expected back by mid-August.
The veteran outfielder played in just 18 games before going on the disabled list May 3 with left knee bursitis, which eventually mandated a cleanup surgery. When he's healthy and playing well, Jennings can be an offensive force.
Also expected to return is Drew Smyly, who will continue his rehab Friday at a Minor League affiliate that is yet to be determined.
Smyly (torn left labrum) went on the disabled list May 9. The left-hander has made one rehab start in his pursuit to return to Tampa Bay's rotation. He is expected to throw four innings and approximately 60 pitches Friday. If all goes well, that would project to a mid-August return.
Smyly is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three starts for the Rays this season. Prior to the start of the season, he was penciled in as the team's No. 3 starter, but he began the season on the DL due to left shoulder tendinitis.
Thus, while Tampa Bay is not projected to be either buyers or sellers at the Trade Deadline, most teams will not acquire players as talented as Jennings or Smyly.
Nevertheless, expect the Rays to continue talking to other teams about potential deals.
"All teams do this," manager Kevin Cash said. "They're going to talk to everybody else. Find out their needs and wants. Go from there."
Silverman said one can never anticipate deals happening.
"It's hard to predict whether another one, two or three will happen," Silverman said. "There are several conversations going. The hit rate on those conversations is historically low. But we'll continue to have those conversations over the next several days."
Silverman called Tampa Bay's situation with the Trade Deadline approaching a "two-way street." Clearly, he didn't indicate that the Rays were planning on becoming sellers and looking toward next season.
"We make calls, we receive calls," Silverman said. "We have players that we're intersted in. At the same time, teams call us with interest in players. Some of it's new interest. Some of it's old interest -- conversations that have gone back six months, or even years ago. But this is a good time for all teams to focus and have dialogue to see if there are ways to help each other's organizations."
Cash noted that he loves the group of players he has on this year's team.
"If we add to it, great," Cash said. "If a trade works in our favor for the organization, great, too. But the group of guys we have in here can definitely make a push here at this thing the last 60 days."