Of course, during the time I spent researching this, the Tampa Bay Rays have gotten hot, and the Blue Jays have gotten cold, and the notion that the Rays are completely out of contention is less clear-cut. They are now 8.5 games behind Baltimore in the East, and also 8.5 behind the Second Wild Card-leading Seattle Mariners.
But let’s assume that they fade a bit back as the trade deadline approaches, and are willing to make a blockbuster deal.
And, since the Oakland A’s have already made their blockbuster, any Seattle move would be a “counter-blockbuster.”
First, I’ll take a look at my proposed deal, then we’ll follow with the reasons why each time might be willing to do it.
Tampa Bay Rays Give Up:
- David Price, LHP (age 28). Absolutely consistent left-handed perennial Cy-Young candidate. Has one-and-a-half more seasons of club control (arbitration-eligible), then will hit free agency after the 2015 season. If not signed to an extension, then he’ll be a slam-dunk “qualifying offer,” which will net a draft pick if he signs elsewhere.
- Desmond Jennings, OF (RH-hitting) (age 27). Plays center and left. Knows how to draw walks and hit with decent power (.157 career ISO). Career OPS 100 points higher against LH pitching. Also good for a couple dozen steals per year. About to become arbitration-eligible, and will be under club control for three years on that basis. Exactly what Seattle needs to replace Dustin Ackley in left field in 2014, plus he can move back to center in future years if the need arises.
Seattle Mariners Give Up:
- Roenis Elias, LHP. The Rays will want Taijuan Walker, but they instead should be convinced that Elias is a rare commodity in a trade: A guy who already has a track record of MLB success, but also upside. He’s a rookie, so he’ll have five more years of club control after 2014.
- Nick Franklin, 2b/SS. Like Elias, Franklin already has a taste of MLB success (12 HR in 102 G in 2013). Since he’s spent most of 2014 with Tacoma, Franklin will also have five more years of club control.
- Danny Farquhar, RHP. Or Tom Wilhelmsen. Or Yoervis Medina. Or Dominic Leone. You get the idea. Farq seems like the best candidate from the Rays point of view, since he has closer experience (unlike Medina) and has one more year of a cheap contract before arb-eligibility (unlike Wilhelmsen). If it has to be Brandon Maurer to make the deal work and keep Walker out of it, then Maurer could be here too. Maurer has two more seasons before becoming arb-eligible.
- Tyler Pike, LHP or Victor Sanchez, RHP. Both high-upside starters who reached AA while very young (Sanchez 19, Pike 20). Pitchers who reach AA at that age have a very high record of success, and it’s doubtful Seattle will be in a position to use both.
- Patrick Kivlehan, 3b/1b. I think the Rays will require another prospect with pretty high upside in order to pry loose Jennings. Kivlehan has flashy stats, and is already at AA. They may prefer catcher Tyler Marlette or outfielder Gabriel Guerrero.
- Abraham Almonte, OF. Won an MLB starting job in Spring Training, and made a nice recovery in June (.861 OPS) after an ugly period. While the Rays have others who can fill Jennings’ spot, Almonte gives them a switch-hitting reserve who can play center.