Rays Need To Find Pitching Help Before Trade Deadline

Tyler FrazierContributor IJuly 24, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 27:  Scott Kazmir #19 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies during game five of the 2008 MLB World Series on October 27, 2008 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

With the July 31 MLB trade deadline less than 2 weeks away, questions linger over the heads of Rays fans concerning the future direction of the team.

Currently residing in third place in the AL East, many question whether the Rays' current roster is talented enough to repeat last season's World Series appearance.

Well if the team is going to make the move, now is the time because in two weekse their options will dramatically decrease.

Rumors have been circulating in Tampa Bay linking the Rays to the likes of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Chad Qualls, and Victor Martinez, among others

Sure, Blue Jays GM J.P. Riccardi told Jim Rome this week that he doesn't expect to trade Halladay, but that is not the reason why he will not become a member of the Rays.

The truth is, Halladay is entirely too expensive for the Rays to sign. Team owner Stuart Sternberg opened his wallet prior to this season by signing the likes of Gabe Kapler, Joe Nelson, and most notably, Pat Burrell.

Lee makes much more sense financially than Halladay for the Rays, but would the Indians really be willing to part ways with last year's CY Young Award winner?

The rumored trade involved the Rays parting ways with Wade Davis or Reed Brignac. Tampa would rather deal Brignac than Davis after already trading starters Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel this year. It also helps that Jason Bartlett is the starting shortstop so there is not an immediate need for Brignac to play in the majors.

With recent struggles of catcher Dioner Navarro, it is not a surprise that the Rays have been linked to Victor Martinez of the Indians. The initial story had the Rays trading away Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, and Jeremy Hellickson for the former All-Star.

Soon after the two rumored deals surfaced, Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal has reported that the any major Indians trade involving Martinez or Lee is very doubtful.

As far as the Martinez trade goes, I am glad that the rumored deal is just that. That price is a little too hefty if you ask me. The Rays don't have the pitching depth to make this deal possible. 

With that being said, if there is any chance of the Lee deal happening then my advice is to pull the trigger the first chance you get. Lee is the type of pitcher that doesn't come around too often.

Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse reported that the newest player the Rays could be offering is Scott Kazmir. Depending on the return, this could be the perfect time to move the former ace.

Kazmir's contract makes trading him a little bit easier as well. He is making $6 million this season, but is still owed $22.5 million on his current contract. Compare that to Lee who is due to make $2 million before the end of the season and has a team option for $9 million next year.

If the Rays can deal Kazmir in order to acquire Lee while keeping Davis in the process could be the exact move that could push this team over the top. Carl Crawford's name has also been brought up, but the chances of that happening are pretty slim.

Crawford, along with Evan Longoria, has been the heart of the franchise this season. I think if you trade the left fielder, you trade your chances of a postseason run along with him.

One of the Rays' most problematic positions this season is the closer role. JP Howell has filled in nicely lately but does not seem to be the long term solution. He is much more valuable to the team as a middle reliever especially with Chad Bradford being placed back on the disabled list.

This is why the addition of Qualls could make sense. He is the perfect fit for what the Rays need as the replacement for the position vacated by Troy Percival. The only problem could be that Qualls is currently making $2.35 million and is eligible for free agency after next season.

Tampa has also been rumored to have interest in Blue Jays reliever Jason Frasor and Oakland's Michael Wuertz.

I personally would love to see the Rays make a move for Qualls more so then Frasor or Wuertz, but any of the three will be a much needed upgrade to a pitching staff in need of some help.