Ask Gary: Who should the Rays keep, trade?

by Gary Shelton on July 7, 2018 · 6 comments

in general

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Saturday, 4 a.m.

After the Rays impressive recent homestand, your favorite writer at the Times speculated that the Rays could potentially climb into the playoff picture. He apparently is oblivious to the fact that July is the month of the trade deadline and the Rays management is plotting to blow up this team. Eovaldi, Ramos, Archer, Hechavarria, Chaz Roe and Sergio Romo are on the short list of players to be traded. Carlos Gomez could be DFA’d just to get him off the team. Even Matt Duffy and C. J. Cron appear expendable for the right price which I think is incredibly stupid. Kevin Kiermaier will eventually go too (more likely next year) because after all, no Ray can make $8Mil+ and stay on this team for long.  If all those guys are traded the Rays would essentially become a Triple A team. What is your prediction for how many and which players get moved before the deadline at the end of the month?

Larry Beller

Larry, a small market team that is mostly out of contention isn't going to keep its players, especially those who aren't long-term answers. The Rays are on the cusp of contending for the second wild card, largely because there are so many bad teams, so I'm sure there will be movement.

Frankly, it's the way the Rays do business. How else are they going to get better? You pay a guy big money only if he's worth it, if he's a cornerstone performer. For instance, the team paid Evan Longoria more than $10,000,000 per season from 2015-2017. Such contracts are rare, but they exist.

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Personally, I think Wilson Ramos is gone. Yes, he's having an all-star year. But he came for a reduced contract, and he's free to walk for no compensation after the season. It makes no sense to keep him. I think Adeiny Hechavarria has to go; he's in the way of Willy Adames' playing time. The natural growth of a team makes both players. expendable.

The team will eventually trade Chris Archer. I like Archer, personally, but he's 13 games under .500 for his career with a 3.67 ERA. He isn't Sandy Koufax. If the team can get the right mix of prospects, it might be time.

I'd hate for Matt Duffy to go. He's a gamer, and he's the guy you want to see at the plate with the winning run on second. Has Christian Arroyo shown enough to inherit third base?

This may surprise you. I really like Roe despite him giving up a grand slam Friday night. I'm not sure he'll draw big interest -- or a big return -- so he might be safe.

Likewise, you'd have to sweep me off my feet to get Nathan Eovaldi. Heck, don't the Rays want any starting pitchers? I even see that there is speculation the Rays might move Blake Snell, but I think that's the arrogance of the teams with money. I don't think he goes this year.

Gomez is what Bill Parcells used to call "just another guy." C.J. Cron is better, but he could be moved for the right return.

This is standard, Larry. You know that. For once, though, I don't think it's as much about money (it's always about money a little bit) as it is clearing up playing time for younger players and gathering prospects.

If the Rays are going to get good, or closer to good, they're going to have to pull this off properly. They're going to have to move some pieces so they can promote some pieces.

Heck, it wasn't too long ago I was predicting doom and gloom for this Rays' team. I don't think they're got players who have become untouchable overnight  I'd move some players, too, especially Ramos and Hechavarria. Maybe Sergio Romo.

Kiermaier is the guy who might have to go, eventually, because of his contract. But who wants a guy hitting .147 (after Friday) who keeps getting hurt? How much return is there?

The bottom line is this: Like it or not, roster movement is always going to be a big deal for this team. When a player's contract gets too big, the Rays are going to move him unless he's a superstar. It's just part of the game for a team as cash-poor as this one.

Let me ask you a serious question, Larry. Honestly, how many players on your list are $8 million a year guys?

MLB reduced minimum Disabled List (DL) time from 15 days to 10 days starting with the 2017 season.  Here is a summary of total days spent on the DL and total payroll cost for the 2015, 2016, 2017 seasons, and the 2018 season to date. 

year min dl days days to date extrapolation factor full season # of days payroll cost to date extrapolation factor full season payroll cost
2018 10 17,240 1.88372093 32,475 $382,577,629 1.88372093 $720,669,487
2017 10     31,344     $614,100,275
2016 15     31,088     $559,785,957
2015 15     28,111     $565,731,501

Notice that DL payroll cost for 2017 increased about $54 million (about 10%) over the 2015/2016 seasons.  For 2018, the full season cost extrapolates to $720 million, which is a $106 million jump from 2017, and a 29% jump from 2016.  Is this huge increase because players are becoming more fragile, teams are more cautious, and/or players are gaming the system?  Do you think the owners have any idea how much this change for the DL minimum days is costing them?

Scott Myers

Oh, they know. A nickel doesn't hit the parking lot without a professional owner hearing it. They're the most miserly bunch of rich cats you've ever encountered.

It doesn't surprise me that teams are spending more money than ever for injured players. For one thing, players make more money than they ever have. Ten guys spending 10 days on the DL, I'm sure, costs a team a lot more than it did in the past.

Then there is this: Players are such investments anymore that they go on the DL for a hangnail. There is no more "playing through it." I think if he came along now, Cal Ripkin might have been allowed to play 10, 12 games in a row, but no more.

I would love to see you expand this list to type of injury and average stay on the DL. Tommy John surgery, in particular, seems to have soared.

Frankly, I do think that players are more fragile than they've ever been, and I blame the team somewhat for that. Players are conditioned now to think of six innings as a quality start instead of think of going eight or nine.

I've used this stat before. In 1971, four Baltimore Orioles starters won more than 20 games or more each. Dave McNally, Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar and Pat Dobson totaled 81 wins. More impressively, they combined for 70 complete games. Cy Young had nine seasons in which he completed 40  or more complete-games.

It seems like Steve Yzerman has put no-trade clauses into several contracts.    Do you think that this might blow up in our faces down the road ... or is it a good idea?

Jim Willson

Jim, there's no doubt. Any time a team ties its hands with a contract, there is the potential to be restricted. That's just common sense.

But if you look around the league, a no-trade (or a limited no-trade) is standard with a big contract. No one wants to wake up and find out they've been traded to Phoenix.

That said, teams work around no-trades all the time. A player merely has the right to say where they're going. Because the better teams (where most players want to play) are generally the ones making the trade to put them over the hump, it really hasn't gotten the way.

Could it? Sure. Say the Bolts wanted to move Braydon Coburn, but he decides he likes it here, and he likes the schools his kids attend. He could block what Yzerman might consider a winning trade.

I will say this, though. I trust Yzerman. I trust him to evaluate what players deserve a no-trade, and I trust him to make the deals he needs to make.

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