Is Jason Bay Headed To The Tampa Bay Rays?

Forrest KobayashiSenior Analyst IJuly 30, 2008

The New York Yankees made their acquisition of Ivan Rodriguez today, shoring up a questionable hole in their lineup with a proven slugging machine.  The Red Sox are in the midst of discussions with the Florida Marlins to ship out disgruntled star right fielder Manny Ramirez, possibly in return for some young bats.  So where do the Tampa Bay Rays fall into all of the trade talks that have gone on so far?

Recently, the Rays have discussed the possibility of adding Brian Fuentes, a relief pitcher from the Colorado Rockies.  Fuentes would undoubtedly shore up a bullpen that has been fairly above-average this season, and could add another closing option to the mix of Troy Percival and Dan Wheeler.  Recently however, talks have surfaced between the Rays and Pirates, over one of their stars, left fielder Jason Bay.

Bay, undoubtedly, is one of the more underrated stars in the MLB today.  He has hit for average (.284) but has gotten on base at an extremely high rate (.378).  He also has hit for some nice power (22 home runs), and for a fairly power-starved Rays lineup, that could be crucial to their lineup's continued success.  There is no doubt that he would instantly upgrade the Ray's platoon of Gabe Gross and Eric Hinske in right.

The question is, though, will it actually happen?  As an avid Rays fan, I would love to see this happen, but I am tempering my expectations and ultimately, my hope.  The Rays have already named top prospects Wade Davis and David Price as absolutely off-limits: while it allows me to breathe a sigh of relief, I also wonder if the Rays will be stingy with their talented young players.

In the end, I do not believe the Rays will go through with this deal, unless they can minimize the hit to their farm system to their liking.  I believe that it will take a great deal of wiggle room to get this deal done, and I just don't know if Tampa is willing to sacrifice any part of their future to win now, as the team is having continued success as it is.  

As we close in on Trade Deadline 2008, watch the Rays closely to see if they make any moves.  It could be the difference between missing the playoffs and winning the World Series.