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Inbox: What is Rays' big-picture strategy?

Beat reporter Bill Chastain answers questions from fans
MLB.com @wwchastain

If the Rays were to trade Chris Archer or Alex Colome to any buyers, what would the Rays get in return -- Minor League prospects or big leaguers?
-- Sam H., Altadena, Calif.

I would think they'd receive top-of-the line prospects or young Major League talent. Acquiring players further along in their careers -- and at a higher pay scale -- goes against the Rays' business model. That doesn't guarantee they wouldn't trade for an established player, but from what I've seen in the past, that would be an unlikely scenario.

If the Rays were to trade Chris Archer or Alex Colome to any buyers, what would the Rays get in return -- Minor League prospects or big leaguers?
-- Sam H., Altadena, Calif.

I would think they'd receive top-of-the line prospects or young Major League talent. Acquiring players further along in their careers -- and at a higher pay scale -- goes against the Rays' business model. That doesn't guarantee they wouldn't trade for an established player, but from what I've seen in the past, that would be an unlikely scenario.

It has been suggested that the Rays should tank for a few seasons to get some overall No. 1 picks. What is your take on that?
-- Joe, St. Petersburg

I'm not a big fan of tanking in order to get the No. 1 pick. In baseball, such an approach just doesn't work because of the distance a top pick must travel before getting to the Major Leagues. However, trading big league talent has worked in several cases and taking that approach has allowed several teams to stockpile talent for a run. While the Rays have traded Evan Longoria this offseason, they haven't really tipped their hand which direction they want to head, though I do know they want to reduce payroll. Can they do that and remain competitive? Stay tuned.

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Now that Longoria has been traded, I'm wondering what to do with all of the Longoria T-shirts I bought over the years. Do you think the Rays should have a free-ticket-for-a-T-shirt promotion?
-- Renee L., Hudson, Fla.

I like that idea, Renee. The Rays are pretty savvy where marketing is concerned, so maybe they'll follow suit. That would make for a really good promotion if the Rays were playing the Giants this season.

After the Longoria trade, fans are wondering who the new face of the franchise will be, and the new clubhouse leader. Kevin Kiermaier or Archer (trade pending) will probably end up becoming the face, but do you think they are ready to be leaders? If not, who is?
-- Jack M., Sarasota, Fla.

I think either, or both, can be a face, or the faces, of the franchise. In addition, given the work ethic of both players, I think either can lead by example, and they are probably already doing so.

With J.T. Realmuto of the Marlins potentially on the trade block, do you see the Rays making a deal for him this offseason or before the Trade Deadline? He'd be a solid long-term solution at catcher for the Rays.
-- Michael B., Odessa, Fla.

Based on the fact the Rays have Wilson Ramos and Jesus Sucre for this season, Realmuto likely wouldn't be a good fit. However, if the Rays were to trade for him, he would be a nice long-term solution at backstop going forward. He does not become a free-agent until 2021, and the Rays do like to have control.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Chris Archer, Alex Colome