Tampa Bay Rays Trade Speculation: Should the Club Wave a White Flag?

Solomon RyanCorrespondent IIJuly 25, 2011

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 21:  Pitcher James Shields #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays relaxes on the bench during the game against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on July 21, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays got the short end of the stick when they were selected to play in baseball's best division, the American League East.

With a low payroll and limited talent, the Rays can hardly be expected to keep up with the big-spending Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

It may be too late for the Rays to buy reinforcements at this year's trade deadline. Instead, they should plan for the next season and start selling.

Currently, the Rays are 9.5 games back of the first place Red Sox and 6.5 games back of the Yankees for the AL Wild Card. If the Rays were in any other division in the American League, they would be tied for either first or second.

The Rays' lack fan support, talent and money. As a result, they are not in a position to win or even compete for a playoff spot.

Selling some veterans would help the Rays in the long run. Also, the team has a few players who could be used as trade bait for other contending teams because the players have had great numbers this season and/or have loads of potential.

For example, B.J. Upton is only 26 years old and has the opportunity to be one of the best outfielders in baseball. He is worth a lot for the Rays, but with Desmond Jennings in the wings, it looks like trading B.J. Upton would be a smart option.

In the off-season, the Rays tried to show they were in it to win it by signing veterans Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez.

It didn’t work out with Manny, but Damon showed he can still produce at a good level. The Rays should look to trade Damon to the Yankees, White Sox or Rangers.

Everybody in contention for the playoffs always looks for an elite starter who can single-handedly win two or maybe even three games in series.

James Shields can do that, and you can guarantee the price tag for Shields will be high.

It's sad, but Tampa has had to give up elite players before. The Rays knew they couldn’t afford Carl Crawford so they let him go into free agency.

The Rays survive by relying on their farm system and trading away good players for future prospects.

It is a rarity for the Rays to make a big trade, but if they were to do so, San Diego Padre closer Heath Bell would be a perfect fit.

While Kyle Farnsworth, the Rays' closer, is pitching out his mind with 1.99 ERA, he has blown four saves, which is a decent amount. The success of Farnsworth won’t continue. The Rays need a reliable guy like Bell to close out games.

Colby Rasmus is the player the Rays should focus most on going after. He is young (24) and plays the outfield, two traits the Rays value deeply.

As good as Rasmus is, don’t expect the Rays to make a move. I think they've just about given up on their dream of making the playoffs.