07/31/09 8:50 PM ET
Rays confident in group they have
Trade talks happen, but no deals made before deadline
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
"In the end, after hour upon hour of internal and external conversations, we just ultimately didn't find a fit," said Andrew Friedman, the Rays' executive vice president of baseball operations. "We had a lot of conversations."
Friedman noted that late in the day the Rays did get "fairly close on something."
"And ultimately we didn't feel like it was something that made sense," Friedman said. "We tried to push things ahead. But at the end of the day, we have a lot of confidence in the guys we have. We've talked about it a lot going into this.
"So we weren't just going to make a move for the sake of making a move. We were only going to do something if we felt like it really impacted this club and there was an obvious noticeable difference. And so obviously there's a lot of speculation out there, but in terms of guys who can really impact our team, some are under the radar, some are not. That's where our focus was."
Friedman did not identify the trade the Rays discussed late in the day other than saying it was not a "big-ticket-type move" and that it would have been something that would have helped the club. But in the end the deal didn't line up properly.
Now that the non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed, deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. In other words, the player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by one of the teams, he cannot be traded. The club that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player, or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to the player.
The final significant deadline for contending teams is Aug. 31, because players must be on the Major League roster by midnight on that date to be eligible for postseason play.
While the Rays did not pull the trigger on a deal, the Red Sox acquired Cleveland's Victor Martinez. Many trade rumors had Martinez headed to the Rays. The Red Sox also acquired first baseman Casey Kotchman from the Braves. Meanwhile, the first-place Yankees acquired Jerry Hairston Jr. from Cincinnati.
Martinez is "a good hitter, man," Maddon said. "He makes them better, no question."
Maddon said he always assumes the Yankees and Red Sox are going to do something to try to improve their respective clubs every year.
"That's how they're made up," Maddon said. "We're made up differently. Our philosophy and how we go about business is different. I'm very comfortable with our philosophy and how we go about our business."
Friedman said the Rays do not look at the July 31 Trade Deadline as a point where they quit trying to improve the team and pointed out that last year Tampa Bay acquired Chad Bradford after the non-waiver cutoff.
Maddon said he wasn't disappointed the Rays did not make a deal.
"I don't feel let down at all," Maddon said. "I know that Andrew had some very creative ideas up there that he tried to get done. [It] possibly could have made us even better, but it didn't happen. So I don't really worry about that stuff."
One thing is certain, when the non-waiver Trade Deadline passes, expressions of relief are prominent in the clubhouse.
"We kind of had a feeling nothing was going to happen," James Shields said. "We have a great team here. We just have to put it all together."
Dioner Navarro is one of the players in the clubhouse whose job would have been impacted had the team made a deal for Martinez.
"My agent called me and said he'd heard rumors about Victor Martinez," Navarro said. "But I couldn't worry about that. All I can do is worry about the things that I have some control over, do what I can to help the team win and that's the bottom line."
Now that the team that will go forward is pretty much settled, Navarro said he likes the group the Rays have sans trades.
"I think we have a great group of guys," Navarro said. "[The non-waiver Trade Deadline is] over and now, so we can look forward to moving on."
Friedman understands that not making a deal will likely upset some of the team's fan base, but he said he must act in accordance with what he feels is in the organization best interests.
"The great thing about baseball, everyone has an opinion," Friedman said. "What's great about it is we have a lot of passionate fans and a lot of knowledgeable fans. ... At the end of the day, it gets down to winning games, and we're confident that the group we have here is going to run off two pretty good months here."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.