Rays don't expect to be trade players
Club happy with roster, but will keep deadline options open
ST. PETERSBURG -- The trade season is upon us, and the Rays aren't likely to be big players this year.
Unlike years past, the Rays don't have any glaring holes to fill, which bodes well, because shopping during the trade season is not the most advantageous for teams. Wading through the seller's market can be costly as the value of a needed player can be inflated well beyond that player's true value.
Consider last season when the Rays needed a closer. Had they been interested in making a bid for Rafael Soriano before the Trade Deadline, the cost of the hard-throwing right-hander would have been far more expensive than what they ended up getting him for at the Winter Meetings. Rather than trading right-hander Jesse Chavez (whom the Rays acquired by trading Akinori Iwamura to the Pirates) to the Braves, then having to ante up on his contract, Soriano's price tag likely would have included some quality prospects as well.
Entering the trade season, Andrew Friedman, the Rays' executive vice president of baseball operations, said Tampa Bay has a lot of confidence in the 25 guys on the roster, in addition to the depth at Triple-A Durham.
"That said, we have a responsibility to monitor the market," Friedman said. "And be aggressive to make a move if something lines up that makes sense."
If the Rays do have any needs they might address before the end of July, the likely areas would be in the bullpen and perhaps a power bat for the DH. Again, as Friedman noted, the Rays are not in dire need at either area, which makes the chances of a July deal less likely.
Still, the Rays like to look at their team as a fluid model that they can add to or subtract from throughout the season. Which means if they have a chance to get a player they want and he fits the team model, they could surprise you.
More than likely, any additions the Rays make to the team will come in August, after the Trade Deadline has passed. During that period, a player has to first clear waivers before he can be traded.
In 2008, the Rays picked up right-hander Chad Bradford in August. Last season, Tampa Bay picked up catcher Gregg Zaun and right-hander Russ Springer in August in advance of the trade that sent left-hander Scott Kazmir to the Angels for left-hander Alex Torres, third baseman Matt Sweeney, and a player to be named later, who turned out to be infielder Sean Rodriguez.
"For the most part, our focus the last few years has been on more impact-type guys before the deadline," Friedman said. "And after the deadline, we've kind of focused on acute needs. Not necessarily big-ticket guys, but guys that we were able to plug into our existing group that we felt like improved us around the margins. So I would imagine that that will be our approach again this year."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.