Rays deal Glasnow, Margot to LA for 2 talented prospects

December 16th, 2023

ST. PETERSBURG -- joined the Rays as a young, talented but unproven pitcher acquired as part of a trade for a top-of-the-rotation veteran starter. Five and a half years later, he moved to the other side of the deal.

The Rays officially completed a trade on Saturday that sent Glasnow, outfielder  and $4 million to the Dodgers for young starter Ryan Pepiot and outfielder Jonny DeLuca. Glasnow then signed a five-year, $136.5 million extension with Los Angeles.

“This particular deal was something that, to us, we saw as not only our greatest return, but also our greatest fit,” Rays president of baseball operations Erik Neander said. “While we lose some certainty in the accomplishments of Tyler and Manuel, we’re getting two players that are well-positioned to step in in the near-term here and keep us in a very competitive space.”


Rays get: RHP Ryan Pepiot, OF Jonny DeLuca

Dodgers get: RHP Tyler Glasnow (signed extension), OF Manuel Margot, cash ($4 million)

Pepiot should effectively replace Glasnow in the Rays’ rotation, while DeLuca can assume Margot’s role as a versatile part of Tampa Bay’s outfield mix. The Dodgers gain the certainty of the 30-year-old Glasnow’s dominance, when healthy, and the 29-year-old Margot’s steadiness.

In the long run, it could be a move that benefits both clubs. The Rays, constantly balancing short-term success with long-term sustainability in a smaller market, will hope their younger replacements can restructure their roster without taking a big step back competitively.

These deals don’t get any easier for Tampa Bay, but that cycle is simply part of the way they do business.

“We often talk about our belief that the best way for us to win a World Series is to try to continue to get as many opportunities to compete in the postseason as possible,” Neander said. “This is something that, looking out over the next several years, is the type of transaction that we believe puts us in a position to do just that.”

Glasnow’s time with the Rays is proof of that. Before the 2018 Trade Deadline, they sent All-Star starter Chris Archer to the Pirates for Glasnow (then a former top prospect stuck in Pittsburgh’s bullpen), Austin Meadows and prospect Shane Baz. Archer himself came from a similar deal in 2011 headlined by Matt Garza. In each case, Tampa Bay bet on younger players without much of a track record.

The Rays are doing the same thing now, paring back their payroll and turning over their roster with younger players. They cut $33 million from their projected payroll for next season -- the $25 million Glasnow had been owed plus $12 million due to Margot, minus the $4 million they will send to the Dodgers -- to bring it closer to the range in which they normally operate.

Pepiot, 26, is under club control through the 2028 season and not yet eligible for salary arbitration. DeLuca, 25, is also in his pre-arbitration years and won’t reach free agency until 2030.

Pepiot, a former Top 100 prospect, could join a rotation currently projected to include Zach Eflin, Aaron Civale, Zack Littell, Taj Bradley and Baz. DeLuca can take Margot’s spot in the outfield, backing up Jose Siri in center field or Randy Arozarena in left while platooning with left-handed hitters Josh Lowe and Luke Raley in right.

Both will still be around when the Rays’ roster is closer to full strength in 2025. By that point, ace Shane McClanahan should return from his second Tommy John surgery, rehabbing starters Jeffrey Springs and Drew Rasmussen should be back in the mix, and top prospects like Junior Caminero and Curtis Mead will have had more time to establish themselves in the big leagues.

With nearly their entire roster under club control, the Rays seriously considered bringing the group back. Neander said the front office had that option, with principal owner Stuart Sternberg’s blessing to do so for “the right team at the right time.” But McClanahan’s injury, plus the uncertainty around All-Star shortstop Wander Franco, left the Rays wondering if 2024 was the right year to make that push.

When Glasnow proved to be a popular trade target this offseason, Neander said, the Rays felt they had to be open-minded to the possibility of a trade. They wound up with a deal that gives them short- and long-term help, satisfies the Dodgers’ immediate needs and puts Glasnow in an ideal situation: close to home in Southern California, with a nine-figure contract in hand.

It’s not as if the Rays picked up a couple low-Minors lottery tickets here, either. Pepiot has posted a 2.76 ERA with 80 strikeouts in 78 1/3 innings over 17 outings for the Dodgers over the past two seasons. Set back by an oblique injury last season, he still managed to take a step forward by adding a new, harder breaking ball to an arsenal highlighted by a mid-90s fastball and an elite changeup.

In some ways, DeLuca offers the profile of a less-experienced Margot: a right-handed hitter who can play all three outfield spots. But he also brings dynamic speed, as he ranked 16th in the Majors last season with an average sprint speed of 29.7 feet/second. (Siri led the Rays, according to Statcast, at 29.8.) DeLuca made his big league debut in 2023, hitting .262/.311/.429 in 45 plate appearances, and produced a .956 OPS over 73 games between Double-A and Triple-A.

“You’re acquiring a right-handed starter while giving one up. You’re acquiring a right-handed-hitting outfielder while giving one up,” Neander said. “Earlier in their careers, less established, but believe both have great potential.”