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On Day 1 of Meetings, Rays acquire Wendle

Club adds infield piece in deal with A's, while exploring direction for 2018
MLB.com @wwchastain

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Yankees officially acquired slugger Giancarlo Stanton on Monday. Meanwhile, the Rays brought aboard infielder Joey Wendle in a trade with the A's.

That's life in the American League East for the Rays, who have constantly played the role of The Little Engine That Could. General manager Erik Neander kept his sense of humor about the situation on Day 1 of Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Yankees officially acquired slugger Giancarlo Stanton on Monday. Meanwhile, the Rays brought aboard infielder Joey Wendle in a trade with the A's.

That's life in the American League East for the Rays, who have constantly played the role of The Little Engine That Could. General manager Erik Neander kept his sense of humor about the situation on Day 1 of Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings.

When asked about any effects Stanton joining the Yankees might have on the Rays, Neander quipped: "Less reluctant to charge the mound. Our hitters get 60 feet. [Aaron Judge] and Stanton are about [a 200-foot run from the outfield to join the fray]."

Cash emphasizes value of 'pen, middle relievers

He added: "It impacts things. ... It makes them a better team, and that has an effect on us, as it does other teams in our division and the league. It's something. But I think, at the end of the day, we really have to stay focused on our roster, the talent we have, and letting that play out."

More to the point, the Rays are busy trying to assemble their 2018 squad, and Wendle's acquisition brings value to the team, according to Neander.

"Grinder-type player," said Neander of Wendle, who was acquired for a player to be named or cash considerations. "High baseball IQ, left-handed hitter, infielder that has a history of hitting. Part of what has drawn us to him over time is ... [he is] really a high-quality defender and is about as reliable as they come."

Wendle, 27, has spent parts of the last two seasons in the Major Leagues for the A's, batting .266/.305/.339 (29-for-109) with two doubles, two home runs and 16 RBIs in 36 games (27 starts, all at second base). He was designated for assignment by the A's on Thursday.

Video: OAK@PHI: Wendle cranks a grand slam to right field

While the Rays did pick up a piece, they have not tipped their hand about what direction they want to head in 2018. Will they try to find the five games that kept them out of the playoffs in 2017, or will they trade their players of value in hopes of establishing a foundation for future greatness through the acquisition of prospects?

Neander allowed that the direction they will decide to go is still up in the air.

"Probably depends on the pace of the market and as guys are coming off the board," Neander said. "Right now things are starting to move [after Stanton and Shohei Ohtani have found landing spots].

"... For us, we'd be happy to resolve as much as possible in the next week if it goes that way. Probably going to be something that will play out, based on the history of any given offseason, in January for most of it."

Video: Cash on Ray's goals at Winter Meetings

From the speculation circulating, Alex Colome, Jake Odorizzi, Chris Archer, and Evan Longoria could all be in play depending on the team.

Judging from what's being said, Colome is the most likely to be traded. And the team that could be most interested is the Rockies.

If the Rockies do make a deal for Colome, who is projected to make $5.5 million in his first year of being arbitration eligible, it would likely be for low-level prospects with high upsides but not close to the Major Leagues.

However, if the Cardinals are involved, those prospects would likely be closer to being Major League-ready. Reports have the Cardinals being interested in Colome, Archer and Longoria.

And the Cardinals have a lot of prospects who could be dealt.

For starters, there are right-handers Jack Flaherty (the Cardinals' No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline), Dakota Hudson (No. 8), Sandy Alcantara (No. 9) and Luke Weaver. Also a right-hander, but said to be unavailable, is the Cardinals' No. 1 prospect, Alex Reyes.

In addition, Cards outfield prospect Magneuris Sierra (No. 6) could be available along with current Major League outfielders Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk. Of note, Piscotty could possibly play some first base.

Hot Stove Tracker

The Brewers have been rumored to be possible Archer suitors. They do not have Minor League pitching to offer, but they do have several interesting outfield possibilities in Lewis Brinson, a five-tool player identified as the organization's No. 1 prospect. Others possibilities include Brett Phillips, Domingo Santana and Keon Broxton.

"It's natural when you have depth at any position to get calls on players at those positions, so that's what happens," Brewers GM David Stearns told reporters. "But it's also natural that if we're going to even consider trading someone who is such an important part of our team, we are going to expect a sizable return."

While the Brewers would like Archer, they might be the ultimate landing spot for Odorizzi, who began his professional career in the Brewers' organization.

The Cubs are also interested in Archer, along with free agent Alex Cobb.

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

Tampa Bay Rays, Joey Wendle