Ask Gary: When do the Rays trade Kiermaier?

by Gary Shelton on August 4, 2018 · 4 comments

in general

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With all the trade deadline deals the Rays were able to shed just under $6 million in net payroll. Only Baltimore, KC and Toronto shed more. Now that Archer, Wilson Ramos and Hechavarria are gone and after Gomez and Romo walk into free agency at the end of the year, the only large contract remaining on the team will be that of Kevin Kiermaier who will earn $54.5 million  over the next five years.

The Rays management are a calculating bunch. In 2016 they traded for third baseman Matt Duffy who less than 2 years later replaced Evan Longoria and his large contract. This year the Rays went out and got centerfielder Tommy Pham from the Cardinals. Both Pham and Duffy have similar low contracts. Do you think the Rays will use the same strategy once again to make Pham KK’s replacement? Before the start of next season, will Kiermaier be the next big contract to be shed by the Rays?

Larry Beller

If I were Kiermaier, I wouldn't get too comfortable myself. You know how it works. If you're going to paid top-dollar, you have to perform top-dollar. I know the area loves Kevin Kiermaier, but he's still hitting below .200. If that doesn't change, I would imagine that he'll be on the block next season.

That's the bad part of being a Rays' fans. Everyone is on the block every year. You get attached to a player, and he's someone else's.Or he's a free agent with no hope of being retained.

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You've been to the Trop. You've seen the empty seats. You know that their TV deal isn't a big one. Major league baseball lags behind other sports in revenue sharing. No one  knows what the books of the Rays say, but logic tells you they make fewer dollars than most teams.

So they cut corners. They trade away big-salaried players like Price and Longoria. They try to compete without spending as much. For a while there, it worked. But to do so, they have to have a lot of younger (and cheaper) players. That's why the failures of the farm system hurt so badly in the last few years.

Other teams can afford more ways to win. They can absorb contracts as will. They can make mistakes and have it not ruin the product. The Rays have to be smart to even make a run at a wild-card spot.

I don't think the Rays are simply trying to outsmart people. I think they have to. I think if they tried to spend with the big boys, they'd go belly up. Remember when baseball sent John McHale down to guide Vince Naimoli. That was his plan: To keep it cheap, to find only special players for long contracts. The Rays are did that in their good years, and they're trying to do it now. It just requires that a team draft and develop special players.

It's a tough way to do business, and it's a tough way to be a fan.

The only thing I know for sure regarding the Rays’ whirlwind of trade activity on 7/31/2018 is that Stu Sternberg pocketed about $5 million with the unloading of Ramos and Archer.  What is your assessment of all the transactions?

Scott Myers

Scott, my first reaction was one of disappointment. It usually is, because the analysts who are tossing out the names usually mention only the top prospects of each interested team.

But Wilson Ramos for a player to be named later. Adeiny Hechavarria designated for assignment? It seems like there was more there. I know other teams also recognize that the Rays want out from under contracts, but that's just silly. There are simply too many times the Rays get rid of a player simply so they won't have to pay him.

I'm not sure I get the trade for Tommy Pham, a 30-year-old outfielder. It seems counter what the Rays usually do, which is send veterans for prospects.

Meanwhile, the team lessens itself. There is no way this Rays team is as good for 2018 as it was before. For a team that had won a lot of us over with its resiliency, that was disappointing. Think about it: Of all the teams in baseball, were there any who needed starting pitching more than the Rays?

I fear we are in an endless cycle. The young players who are attractive to us will be gone in a few years, too. The Rays will be heralding the prospects who came in return. It's sad.

Urban Meyer came to UF with the derisive nickname Urban Liar. I always thought the guy was disingenuous. Now it appears he was protecting a spousal abuser and it looks as if Brett McMurphy, an excellent reporter, has him caught in a lie. What’s your take on Urbie and this mess at Ohio State?

Peter Kerasotis

My first impression was that bad things catch up to bad people. Meyer is into this mess because he failed to lead, and when asked about it, he now admits that he lied.

Like you, and like most of the people who covered Urban at Florida, I found the guy cold and distant and a little bit oily. Players kept getting arrested (31 of them) and then continued to play.

There were so many crimes that happened under his watch that it was sickening. I've always said this: There is not another coach in the history of football who won two national titles yet is held in less regard. He was never a Gator; he was just a mercenary stopping through. He could coach, but he wanted to act like his program was none of anyone's business. I'm not a Florida grad, and I don't need to be buddies with the head coach, but there was something off-putting about Meyer.

I remember reading an interview where Meyer agreed with the questioner that he certainly wouldn't have put up the charges against Jameis Winston. It struck me as completely phony then and even more so now. Meyer put up with everything.

As for the incident at Ohio State, I just know what I read. Meyer admits he lied on media day because "I wasn't prepared to answer the question." How prepared do you have to be to tell the truth? That he somehow should get 48 hours advanced notice, to me, may be as bad as the initial charge. Meyer didn't just lie to the media; he lied to Ohio State.

Meyer has won football games, so I'm sure he'll get every benefit of doubt anyone would. Knowing his history, I'd remove him immediately. He's a bad guy.

Look, Nixon didn't personally break into Watergate. Manson didn't personally go in his family's rampage. Being in a position of leadership and failing to act is reprehensible.

But someone else will grab him up. He wins. Sadly, there are schools who care about little else.

Do you think that Ohio State will be able to find a way to keep Urban Meyer?

Jim Willson

Sadly, I do. It shouldn't keep him, but I can see it happening. I've never trusted huge business organizations (yes, Ohio State is one) to do the right thing.

Urban will play the victim in this. You watch. He'll talk about how tormented he was, and how responsible he was (he wasn't). I wouldn't believe it, but it's possible. Ohio State will keep him the same way that Florida kept him.

But how about you? With all that Urban put up with while at Florida, did you have any doubts that he knew from the first minute you heard the news? I didn't.

Baylor dumped Art Briles, and no one has made a move to rehire him. Perhaps the same thing will happen to Meyer, but I doubt it. Too many programs care too much about winning. Like Urban or not (I don't), he does win. If you don't mind nasty headlines or criminals on campus, he'll be fine.

It's strange. If this had happened to another coach, he would have supporters at his former school come out to defend him. Meyer may have some, but not many.

I read that Chris Archer received a $500,000  assignment bonus for trade.  Is that a standard practice in MLB?

Jim Willson

I'm sure that it is. These days, agents want to throw in every bonus you can imagine into a contract. There are bonuses for keeping one's weight in check, for off-season workouts, etc.

I know this. If I had any leverage over the Rays, I'd want an assignment bonus, too. A player would have to realize that, as his contract grew, he would more and more likely to be traded. So why not ask for it.

Remember, Archer signed a six-year, $25.5 million contract from the Rays. He should have known that he wouldn't see the end of it. And when a team is spending $25 million, it probably isn't going to balk at another five hundred thousand.

Here's my question to you. With a 54-68 record, what is Archer's place among the pitchers in Rays' history. We all know he's behind David Price and James Shields. But how about Matt Garza? How about Alex Cobb? How about Scott Kazmir?

Is he even in the top 10? Inquiring minds want to know.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Larry Beller August 4, 2018 at 10:33 am

The Rays announced that this year would be about developing the young guys and finding out who can play. Even though the team performed better than expected I couldn’t seem them pushing the envelop on making a playoff run. Big contracts were going to be up for sale.

That’s a great point about Ramos. Same could be said of Eovaldi although they did get some return for him. Probably Ramos would have returned more but his injury killed the market for him as a rental.

My guess is the Rays have turned the corner on taking flyers on high priced players who they hope will bring a great return on trade deadline deals. I see them purging their roster of the last remaining big contracts like Keiermaier, C J Cron and maybe even Duffy who is due for a big raise in arbitration. They will go all in on young and cheap. The farm system is producing better talent now and they seem to have figured out how to use the young guys. Expect next year’s team payroll to be the lowest ever.

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Gary Shelton August 4, 2018 at 10:56 am

It’s been pretty low. Death Valley low. Marinas Trench low.

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Larry Beller August 4, 2018 at 7:12 am

The trade for Pham makes sense if you believe that the Rays are grooming him to replace Kiermaier. We all know Keirmaier will not remain with the Rays to the end of his contract. The Rays front office must feel they don’t have anyone in their system ready to replace KK anytime soon so they trade for Pham. They did the same thing when they acquired Duffy in 2016 who became Longoria’s replacement. Pham is older but his contract is near the league minimum and he will be under team control for several years so he fits the profile. The disturbing thing about Pham is he only had 1 good year in his career, he has not hit well this year and is already 30. But the contract price trumps all with this organization.

I agree with your comment that the team is worse off for 2018 after all the trades. I could see this coming from the start. The Rays were going to weaken this year’s team to trade as many big contracts as they could and hail the trades as great for the future. How is trading Ramos for next to nothing great for the future? That’s why any talk of making a playoff run this year is just silly.

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Gary Shelton August 4, 2018 at 10:12 am

You have the pulse of this team, Larry. All along, you’ve predicted the fire sale.

I wonder which bothers the Rays more about Kiermaier? His on the field play or his financial reward?

Pham isn’t Kiermaier in the field. And now that he’s out a month, I’m not sure the Rays don’t still need an outfielder.

With Ramos, you have to wonder this. Why did the team even sign him. He was going to be hurt the first year, and overpaid (for the Rays) the second.

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