Tampa Bay Rays Trade Rumors: Latest Updates, News and Reaction

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistJuly 1, 2014

Tampa Bay Rays Trade Rumors: Latest Updates, News and Reaction

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    It's been a rough year in Tampa Bay, where the Rays' seemingly never-ending pipeline of young pitching has dried up and left the club on track to record its first losing season since 2007.

    The issues that come along with running a financially strapped organization are in full view for general manager Andrew Friedman, who is sure to listen to offers on some of his veteran pieces, none bigger than the ace of his pitching staff, David Price.

    Will the Rays finally pull the trigger on a Price deal, or will things drag out into the winter? How is a Rays fan (we know there are some of you out there, despite what the team's attendance figures would have us believe) supposed to keep up with it all?

    Right here is where you'll find the most up-to-the-minute rumblings about the Rays, along with analysis and everything else that comes with it. While the post date will always show up as July 1, simply click to the next slide to see the latest from the rumor mill as the Rays look to retool for 2015 and beyond.

Done Deals

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    July 7: Traded RHP Matt Ramsey to Miami for the Marlins' second, third and fourth international signing bonus slots worth roughly $1 million (h/t Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Times)

    July 31: Traded LHP David Price to Detroit; Detroit traded SS Willy Adames and LHP Drew Smyly to Tampa Bay and OF Austin Jackson to Seattle; Seattle traded IF Nick Franklin to Tampa Bay

Acquired IF Nick Franklin from Seattle, LHP Drew Smyly from Detroit

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    It was only a matter of time before the Rays traded David Price, who had become too expensive for the club to retain for the long term, so that Tampa Bay's ace is heading elsewhere comes as no surprise.

    In exchange, the Rays acquired infielder Nick Franklin from the Seattle Mariners (per CBS Sports' Jon Heyman) and minor-league shortstop Willy Adames (per Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal) and left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly from Detroit (h/t Heyman).

    Franklin, 24, has struggled at the plate in parts of two major league seasons, hitting .214 with a .649 OPS but has shown a nice power stroke, hitting 12 home runs over 369 at-bats in 2013.

    He's thrived at Triple-A, where he's spent the bulk of this season, hitting .294 with nine home runs, 47 RBI and a .847 OPS in 75 games. Primarily a second baseman, Franklin allows the Rays to keep Ben Zobrist in the outfield and gives the club a long-term answer if and when Zobrist departs.

    Smyly, 25, has bounced between the bullpen and rotation over his three-year career with the Tigers, going 6-9 with a 3.77 ERA and 1.31 WHIP over 20 games (17 starts). He's averaged nearly a strikeout-per-inning (8.6 K/9) over the course of his career.

    While both Franklin and Smyly are young, controllable pieces with some upside, neither one projects to be a superstar. Willy Adames, a young shortstop that some executives told Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi might be Detroit's top prospect and a future stud.

    David Price is.

    While all three have potential, this doesn't seem like nearly enough of a return for the Rays to have obtained for one of the three best pitchers on the planet.

Tampa Bay Looking to Add a Bat?

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Wednesday, July 30 at 3:15 p.m. ET

    Not only does one American League executive believe that the Rays aren't going to trade David Price, but he tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post that he thinks Tampa Bay is looking to add a bat for the stretch run.

    It's not clear whether the team is targeting an everyday player or someone to come off of the bench, but this is the first time that we've seen the Rays mentioned as deadline buyers, not sellers.

Ben Zobrist in Demand

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    Brian Blanco/Getty Images

    Update: Thursday, July 17 at 11:25 p.m. ET

    Talks between the Mariners and Rays are believed to center around Zobrist, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, who says that Seattle infield prospect Nick Franklin has been mentioned more than once as part of a package heading back to Tampa Bay.

    It's unclear how far talks have progressed, however, and the Rays could very well decide to do nothing if they can make up some ground in the playoff picture over the next week or so.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Thursday, July 17 at 4:27 p.m. ET

    The Mariners have interest in Zobrist and have engaged the Rays in talks, though no deal is imminent, according to Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi.

    --End of Update--

     

    Whether David Price is traded or not, it appears that the Rays have another valuable trade chip to dangle on the market as the trade deadline draws near.

    The San Francisco Giants are said to have significant interest in the versatile Ben Zobrist, according to MLB.com's Chris Haft and Ryan Hood, who note that the Giants have had scouts at Rays games even when Price isn't pitching.

    Zobrist, 33,  is batting .268 with six homers and a .757 OPS, right in line with his career numbers (.263 BA/.786 OPS). While he'd likely take over as San Francisco's starting second baseman were a deal to be struck, his versatility makes him an intriguing option for multiple teams.

    While Zobrist is relatively inexpensive—he's making $7 million in 2014 and has a $7.5 million team option on his deal for 2015—Tampa Bay may be able to get a package of talent that it simply cannot turn down given the relative dearth of quality, experienced second base options available.

Jose Molina on the Block

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Tampa Bay will listen to offers for veteran backstop Jose Molina, according to ESPN's Buster Olney, who wonders aloud whether the St. Louis Cardinals, who recently lost Jose's younger brother, Yadier, to injury, would be one of his suitors.

    The elder Molina, 39, is solid defensively but offers almost nothing at the plate, hitting .189 with a .421 OPS and 20 wRC+, which stands as the lowest in baseball among players who have made at least 140 plate appearances on the year.

    Due $2.75 million in 2015, Molina isn't going to bring the Rays anything resembling a useful prospect and could simply wind up being a mini-salary dump by the club.