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Inbox: How will Rays shop this offseason?

Beat reporter Bill Chastain answers Rays fans' questions
October 23, 2017

Do you think they will shop Steven] Souza, [Alex] Colome, [Matt] Duffy, [Adeiny] Hechavarria, [[Kevin Kiermaier] and [Xavier] Cedeno to save money? But more importantly, to try and snag All-Star caliber prospects? We've already held on to [Evan] Longoria too long for him to retire a Ray. I feel like

Do you think they will shop [Steven] Souza, [Alex] Colome, [Matt] Duffy, [Adeiny] Hechavarria, [Kevin Kiermaier] and [Xavier] Cedeno to save money? But more importantly, to try and snag All-Star caliber prospects? We've already held on to [Evan] Longoria too long for him to retire a Ray. I feel like [Jake] Odorizzi could have been the [Shelby] Miller deal and we'd have [Dansby] Swanson and [Ender] Inciarte.
--Kevin D., Carterville, IL

From observing this management team over the years, I know it is looking for the best bang for its buck, and has to operate in said fashion given its financial constraints. I believe Rays officials are like the old salesman who maintains, "Everything I've got is for sale." The bottom line is, what are potential buyers willing to spend? I believe the Rays will listen to deals about any player in their organization -- year-round, but they never feel any pressure to make deals. While deals for prospects often yield future Major Leaguers, they are often risky, because prospects -- no matter how successful they've been at the Minor League level -- are still prospects until proven otherwise.
:: Submit a question to the Rays Inbox ::
I think that Corey Dickerson did an outstanding job at the plate this past season, while he was serving as the DH. After we lost [Colby] Rasmus and he had to start playing left field full-time, his batting average suffered. Could it be that Dickerson is more suited to be just the DH so he can stay focused on his batting?
--Bob M., Clearwater

Good question, but I don't believe that had a lot to do with his second-half hitting woes. Dickerson has said on numerous occasions that he enjoys playing the outfield, and his weight loss allowed him to improve out there, as he moved better, got better jumps, etc. I think Dickerson would tell you that his problems stemmed more from expanding his strike zone and also missing his pitch when he got it. I would agree with you that he showed a lot of promise this season, and I believe he will only continue to improve.
Do you think the Rays will trade Evan Longoria this winter? I know he gets 10-and-5 rights after the first week of the 2018 season. As much as I hate the thought of him playing elsewhere, I also accept that management values roster flexibility and they may try to trade him before he can veto any such move.
--Paul C., Fort Worth, TX

Excellent point, Paul. Once a player has his 10-and-5 rights, he has the power to turn down potential trades. I don't believe the Rays will feel pressure to trade him based on that fact, but I would imagine he's available for the right asking price.
Despite his stuff, it seems clear Archer is not an ace, and the last two years have done little to prove he has the mentality to get to that level. Will the Rays make any moves over the winter to improve the staff by acquisition, and do they have enough talent in the system to bring up another pitcher or two, especially a lefty?
--Jim F.

Archer has been an enigma. Major League scouts are always telling him about his electric stuff and how their teams would like to have him. Nobody works harder than Archer, either. He gives the team 200-plus innings a season, he's struck out 200-plus batters the past three seasons and he's done a lot out in the community. Seeing him around kids is a beautiful thing. I say he has been an enigma in that for all of his positives, the improvements haven't come like you'd like to see. I'm a believer in wins and losses, even if a lot of pitchers will tell you said decisions are out of their hands. I do understand that side of the equation, too, particularly with some of the new statistics measuring performance. So let's throw out the fact that Archer has not had a winning season since 2014. And his ERA has risen the past two seasons after he posted a 3.23 ERA in 2015. Now, if you look at his numbers since the second half of 2015 (the first time he made the All-Star Game), he's gone 22-38 with a 4.02 ERA in 82 starts. So you wonder if he's going to ever turn the corner to be considered an elite starter rather than a starter with elite stuff. He's smart, so I do believe he'll figure it out.

I do agree with Adolfo, who posted an earlier comment in regard to Kevin Cash being the No. 1 problem for the Rays. To be honest, I was expecting at the end of another failed season that Cash would step away or the Rays' owner would dismiss him as it happened with [John] Farrell and [Brad] Ausmus. No need to wait for another season to recognize that Cash is not the manager we as Rays fans deserve. Furthermore, if the decision to trade players such as [Logan] Forsythe and [Tim] Beckham in exchange for lousy players, or to bring in players that are close to retirement such as [Orlando] Arcia, [Rickie] Weeks, [Trevor] Plouffe or [Danny] Espinosa to cite a few is not only from Cash but others at the top management of the organization. Those apart from Cash should be also held accountable for their mistakes. With players like those mentioned out of a longer list that over the past years have passed by, you can not expect the Rays to go to the postseason. Thanks Bill for listening a frustrated fan.
--Guillermo M., Panama City, Panama

I understand the complaints about Cash and the front office. And believe me, yours is not the only e-mail I received expressing that sentiment. But let me ask the question: Would the Rays have made the playoffs this past season with somebody other than Cash as their manager? I don't believe they would have. In my opinion, the biggest problem remains the payroll disparity. The Dodgers will meet the Astros in Game 1 of the World Series presented by YouTube TV on Tuesday night. The Dodgers' Opening Day payroll was $241,149,167, the Astros' was $124,343,900, and the Rays' was' $70,064,700. Many fans will ask why team owner Stuart Sternberg won't raise the payroll, and the answer is simple: The team needs to make more money in order to do so. Nobody in their right mind is going to run their business from a deficit. A lot of factors could help change the situation, but for now, that's Rays reality.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for since 2004.