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A Tampa Bay Rays Blog: Ball on a Budget

Updated: 2017-11-20T11:00:05-05:00


Arizona Fall League roundup



The Arizona Fall League completed its annual slate of games last week.

Last Thursday, the Rays participating in the Arizona Fall League wrapped up their offseason campaign with the Surprise Saguaros. Here is how each player fared and what could come next in their careers:

RHP Spencer Jones (8.03 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 11:5 K:BB in 12 13 IP)

In 101 23 professional innings to date, Jones hadn’t had a problem throwing strikes. I would imagine this won’t impact him moving to Double-A Montgomery for his second full pro season in 2018.

2B Brandon Lowe (.224 BA/.348 OBP/.414 SLG, 6 XBH in 58 AB)

I’m inclined to believe Lowe had some bad luck on balls in play. His strikeout and walk rates were both better than they were with Montgomery when he batted .253 with a .659 OPS in 101 plate appearances, and he must’ve made some decent contact with the extra-base hits he had.

I would expect him to return to the Biscuits to start 2018.

RHP Benton Moss (3.18 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 7:1 K:BB in 11 13 IP)

Moss had a late start to the season, so making up a handful of those innings was a nice way to cap his season. With Montgomery, he allowed 10 home runs in 70 1/3 innings, but in the offense-happy environment of the AFL, he only allowed one dinger.

The North Carolina native could be back in his home state with Durham in 2018.

3B Kevin Padlo (.259/.323/.341, 5 XBH in 85 AB)

Padlo has been known for his power potential, but I wonder if he’s still not recovered from the hamate injury that cost him time with Class A-Advanced Charlotte in 2017. He has never batted over .232 in a full-season assignment. I’m not sure if his improved average was a genuine change in approach or simple variance.

He could be back with the Stone Crabs to start 2018. He’s probably not receiving pressure to move up a level from Adrian Rondon a level below him.

RHP Roel Ramirez (10.24 ERA, 2.38 WHIP, 7:4 K:BB in 9 23 IP)

Ramirez replaced Dalton Moats from the initial list of AFL assignments. Working mostly in relief in 2017, his strikeout rate did improve, but he was still generally ineffective for Charlotte.

RHP Burch Smith (3.98 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 29:11 K:BB in 20 13 IP)

With the 40-man roster decisions looming Monday, Smith provides a difficult choice for the Rays. As one of the older players in the AFL this season, he was extremely effective and was second in the league in strikeouts behind fellow former Padre Max Fried, who threw 5 2/3 more innings.

On his rehab assignment with several different affiliates in 2017, he also pitched effectively in 56 1/3 innings. The team faces a serious roster crunch, and that could leave him vulnerable in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.

C Brett Sullivan (.313/.375/.458, 5 XBH in 48 PA)

Sullivan posted just a .628 OPS in 96 plate appearances with Montgomery to finish 2017, but in the AFL, he was his typical self — making good contact and laughably difficult to strike out. Only one player who struck out less than he did had more at-bats.

I’d expect a return to Montgomery to split time with David Rodriguez is in his immediate future.

Tampa Bay News and Links: 40-Man Roster & Shohei Otani Deadline



40-man roster decisions, will Otani be coming stateside, and Giancarlo trade proposals

A very busy day for the baseball world lies ahead as each team needs to lock in their 40-man rosters ahead of the Winter Meetings and the Rule 5 Draft in early December. Last year, the Rays were active as they dealt Richie Shaffer and Taylor Motter to the Mariners. This year likely won’t be quite as active as they have already dropped their roster count to 32 players.

Also, the huge domino that is holding up the off-season, Shohei Otani, will have a decision made about his posting status as the today is the deadline that the MLB Players’ Union set.

Tampa Bay Rays news and links: Cobb’s farewell



Alex Cobb, as expected, rejected the Qualifying Offer the Rays made him. They will now get draft pick compensation, and the amount will depend on how much someone else pays Cobb.

For his part, Cobb made a statement to the fans, quoted here from The Heater blog:

"Getting to this point in my career is truly bittersweet.

"Twelve years ago the Rays welcomed me into their organization. Being able to play in the stadium that I grew up attending has been a dream come true.

"The two things that I'll truly miss the most are the friendships I've made and our fans. The relationships I've built not only with my teammates and coaches but also the front office and staff have played a major part of who I am today. I can't express how much I'll miss spending each day with my Rays family.

"And to the Rays fans I want to thank each and everyone of you for your unwavering support. Your words of encouragement meant so much to me during the highlights of my career, but they meant even more during the challenging ones.

"As difficult as it is knowing I won't be wearing a Rays uniform next year, I'm beyond excited to see what the next chapter of my career brings!"

MLB Trade Rumors discussed the competitive balance draft pick order. The Rays have a lot of picks this year, and regarding Cobb, Rays fans are now hoping he signs a deal in excess of $50 million.

Meanwhile, from Marc Topkin, commissioner Rob Manfred is doing his job—hanging the threat of the Rays leaving Tampa Bay out there as a way to try to drum up support and money for the team and a new stadium.

Rays Rumors

Other Links

Tampa Bay Rays have 6 draft picks in top 100



MLB awards Rays two draft picks in compensatory rounds

MLB has released the order of the competitive draft rounds in the 2018 draft with the Tampa Bay Rays possessing six picks of the top 100, and could gain at least one more depending on how Alex Cobb’s offseason transpires.

The Rays already have the 16th selection in the draft due to their record. Next, the Rays will select at 32nd overall in the Competitive Balance Round A, for their failure to sign RHP Drew Rasmussen who was taken with the 31st selection in the 2017 draft by the rays.

The Rays will pick 55th overall in the 2nd round, and then have another selection in the Competitive Balance Round B at 72nd overall.

Their final pick in the top 100 will come at the 91st overall draft pick, giving them a total of five selections over the first three rounds of the draft (possibly one more depending on Alex Cobb, see below). Six picks in the first 100 is the most they’ve had since their historic 2011 draft when they had 12 picks in the top 100.

With Alex Cobb declining the Rays qualifying offer, they’ll gain an additional draft pick in the top 100, it’s still to be determined where exactly. If the longtime Ray signs for more than $50 million, the Rays will be rewarded with a selection just before the Competitive Balance Round A. However, if Cobb signs for less than $50 million, the Rays will receive a selection after the Competitive Balance Round B selections are made.

MLB trade rumors: Rays discussing Alex Colome with St Louis Cardinals



The MLB saves leader may be heading to a new home

The trade winds of winter are picking up as the Tampa Bay Rays and St Louis Cardinals have had talks involving the 2017 MLB saves leader, Alex Colome.

Colome, who will turn 29 years old on New Year’s Eve, just capped off his fifth year in the major leagues with 47 saves at the back end of the Rays bullpen. Colome had a 3.24 ERA and a 3.37 FIP to go along with a 20.6 K% and 8.2 BB% in just under 67 innings pitchers over 65 games.

Originally signed as international free agent in March of 2007, Colome eventually became one of the Rays top prospects and made his major league debut as a starting pitcher in May of 2013. After some success in the starting rotation, he was moved to the bullpen in June of 2015 and had massive success for the Rays in his new role.

He is still under contract for three more seasons, as he is just now entering his first year of arbitration. MLB Trade Rumors has him projected for a rather large raise as they expect him to make around $5.5M in 2018. An extreme bargain for one of the top relievers in baseball, but still a high price tag for the budget-strapped Rays.

Over the last two season, Colome has arguably been among the five best closers in baseball, and led all of baseball in saves last season (47).

Earlier this offseason, JT Morgan looked into several players on the St Louis Cardinals whom the Rays should look to acquire in any deal, with right-handed outfielders being the most sought after. Colome would be a smart fit for the Cards if the return price is right for the Rays.

Tampa Bay Rays news and links: Sternberg talks stadium financing


Just a little bit. The most interesting news, from Tampa Bay Times beat reporter Marc Topkin, to come out of the Winter Meetings so far is that Rays principle owner Stuart Sternberg says the Rays want to pay $150 million of the estimated $800 million cost of a new stadium. That’s the number that’s been bandied about before, although Sternberg notes that it could go up or down based on revenue projections. The article goes on to discuss some amount of disunity within the Hillsborough County city council, and to mention the difficulty in figuring how to down the difference, if that’s really all the Rays are in for. Give it a read. Other Rays Links Topkin also noted that Alex Cobb will, as expected, decline the qualifying offer. Erik Neander went on MLB Network’s High Heat to discuss the Rays 2017 season. src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> And the Rays’ plans for the offseason. src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> This was a few days old, but Chaim Bloom did a Q&A with Bill Chastain that goes a little bit deeper into how the front office views this team. Bloom, along with other MLB GMs also answered David Laurila’s question about who in his organization is underrated, flying under the radar. Daniel R. Epstein tried to make a formula to predict where Shohei Ohtani will sign. His prediction was not, Tampa Bay, therefore it’s clearly wrong. Other Links Ken Rosenthal wrote that the Braves will lose prospects for cheating in the international free agent market. The MLBTR article on the Braves notes that the Boston Red Sox also had contracts voided when they were caught cheating. Max Scherzer and Corey Kluber won the NL and AL Cy Young awards. Full voting in links. [...]

Rays are interested in Jose Bautista



The offseason season is back and so are the Jose Bautista rumors!

The General Manager meetings are in full swing, with rumors beginning to circulate, and several of them involve the Tampa Bay Rays.

Jon Morosi of MLB Network and Fox Sports reports the Rays are interested in adding veteran slugger Jose Bautista to the fold for the 2018 season. The Rays had been linked to Bautista last offseason, before he returned to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Bautista, a major league veteran of 14 seasons, just turned 37 years old in October and is coming off an extremely disappointing season with the Blue Jays in which he slashed a mere .203/.308/.366 with 23 HR, good for 80 wRC+ (his lowest since becoming a full-time player) and he accrued -0.5 fWAR. The Jays made the easy decision to decline his option for the 2018 season.

The main reason the Rays would want to add Bautista is his potential against left-handed pitching, which was a major deficit for the team in 2017. Although Bautista struggled mighty against LHP in 2017 (68 wRC+), he has a career wRC+ of 129 against them.

He would likely be limited to DH duty if he signed with the Rays, with an occasional start in the outfield if the team desperately needed a spot start.

Rays Trade Targets: Cardinals Outfielders


UPDATE - 11/15/17: Jon Morosi (below) is reporting that the Cardinals are looking to the Rays to find their next closer. Here’s a full write up of what the Rays may look for in a deal with the Cardinals, who have a plethora of right-hand outfielders. Sources: #STLCards and #Rays have discussed Alex Colome in trade talks. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 15, 2017 *** ORIGINAL ARTICLE - 11/6/17: The Tampa Bay Rays are expected to be active on the trade market and one area they could target is right handed hitting outfielders. Outside of Steven Souza Jr. the Rays don’t have any realistic MLB options in the next few years. The St. Louis Cardinals have an abundance of outfielders and are likely to trade away an outfielder or two. Cardinals are also looking to add an impact bat that likely plays in the outfield only creating a larger log jam. At the major league level they have Dexter Fowler, Tommy Pham, Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk, and Jose Martinez. Let’s break each of them down. Dexter Fowler Last off-season they signed the 31 year old, switch hitting, OBP machine to a 5/$82.5MM deal. Fowler is coming off a .264/.363/.488 and 121 wRC+ season. He’s the least likely of the Cardinals outfielders to be on the move. He’s the most consistent performer and is making a good chunk of change. If the Cardinals were looking to move Fowler the Rays wouldn’t be interested more for financial reasons than an issue with acquiring the player. Fowler has 4/$58MM remaining on his deal and has a full no trade clause. Tommy Pham Tommy Pham enjoyed a breakout season in 2017. The 29 year old right handed hitting outfielder put up 5.9 fWAR behind a .306/.411/.520 line and 148 wRC+. Pham has shown the ability to play center field at a major league average level defensively. Pham’s breakout season came out of nowhere. Prior to the 2017 season he had 358 major league plate appearances with a .245/.333/.455 line and 114 wRC+ over the 2014-16 seasons. Pham has keratoconus, a degenerative eye condition. He is legally blind and has the ability to play major league baseball. That is pretty incredible. He is able to manage with contact lenses. Pham has one more league minimum season before being eligible for arbitration in 2019. The value you see in Pham depends heavily on how much you believe in his 2017 breakout. Stephen Piscotty Just before the season began Piscotty signed a 6/$33.5MM long-term extension. The 26 year old right handed hitting outfielder hit .282/.348/.467 and 121 wRC+ over 905 plate appearances entering 2017. He has been an above average defensive corner outfielder. In 2017 Piscotty struggled at the plate. He hit .235/.342/367 and a 92 wRC+. He still got on base at a very good clip. His strikeout rate stayed relatively unchanged and his walks rate spiked. However his BA and ISO dropped by almost .050. Piscotty is owed 5/$30.5MM. He will make $1MM in 2018. In 2019-2022 he will make $7MM, $7MM, $7.25MM, and $7.25MM. He has a 2023 team option for $15MM ($1MM buyout). The Rays can easily fit his 2018 salary. The flat nature of his 2019-22 salary levels makes him a reasonable target if you believe he bounces back to his pre-2017 levels offensively. Randal Grichuk Randal Grichuk is a low OBP, power right handed bat. In 1,386 plate appearances he has hit .249/.297/.488 and has a 108 wRC+. He’s hit 66 homers. If given 600+ plate appearances 30-35 homers seems like a reasonable outcome. Offensively he reminds me a lot of Mark Trumbo. Defensively he does not. Grichuk has split almost 3,000 innnings in the outfield in center and the corners. Grichuk has been worth 15 DRS and 3.6 UZR in 1,289.1 innings in CF. In the corners he’s put up 5 DRS and 10.9 UZR in 1,558 innings. This winter Grichuk is arbitration-eligible for his first time and is projected to make $2.8MM. He’ll be a free agent after the [...]