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Since the All Star Break the Rays have made zero trades and lost 10 games. Is the season over?
The Giants acquired Carlos Beltran. The Indians traded for Kosuke Fukudome. The Phillies got Hunter Pence. The Braves just acquired Michael Bourn this morning. And the Nationals are still hot on the heels of Denard Span. If there’s still a team out there looking for a bat, they’re in hiding.
There have been some small rumors surrounding B.J. Upton, with Jon Heyman suggesting that a couple teams were still taking one last look at him (Indians, Pirates, and Reds). But at this point, I would assume there aren’t any teams out there that are willing to pay what the Rays are asking for Upton. The Rays can easily hold onto Upton — he’s under team control for another year and a half — so there’s no reason for them to lower their price just to unload him.
With two and a half hours remaining before the deadline, it seems unlikely that the Rays will pull off any majors trades now. It’s still possible, but with each minute that passes, it gets tougher and tougher to envision a scenario where B.J. Upton leaves Tampa Bay today.
From Jayson Stark:
This is a really good trade for the Braves. Not only do they get to add a solid defensive outfielder and plus bat to their team, but they can do so without having to give up much in return. Schafer currently has a career .223/.310/.303 line in the majors, and none of the pitching prospects are considered top prospects. Somehow, the Braves managed to craft a deal that didn’t involve giving up one of their top four pitching prospects – Teheran, Delgado, Minor, and Vizcaino are all rated in Baseball America’s Top 100 list – making this a pretty awesome deal for them.
Michael Bourn is a tragically underrated outfielder. While he doesn’t hit with homerun power like his Houston-trade-buddy Hunter Pence, he still provides a considerable amount of offensive punch. He’s a sure bet to hit around .270-.280, display good plate discipline, and steal a ton of bases. He’s also an above average defensive center fielder, which can be tough to find and acquire. He’s a better overall player right now than B.J. Upton is, but the Braves were able to acquire him for much less than the Rays were asking for Upton.
So in the end, it looks like the Rays are going to be stuck. There are no other teams on the market looking for a bat or an outfielder — or at least, no teams that seem to have significant interest in acquiring either — so the Rays will likely hold onto Upton for now. This has shaped up to be a rather disappointing trade deadline for them, and while it’s not over yet, I’m not sure the Rays can pull off anything at this point to make me change my mind that much.
As far as the Rays are concerned, not much has changed on the trade front since yesterday. The Nats and Braves are both still without an outfielder, although it sounds like the Nats are very close to landing Denard Span.
If that’s the case, that really bring the Rays’ list of suitors for B.J. Upton down to just the Braves. The Braves have expressed interest in a variety of outfielders — they have been hot on Michael Bourne recently — and my guess is they shop around a bunch before going with the player that seems like the best deal. They seem hesitant to include multiple of their top pitching prospects in a deal, but I imagine the Rays would be happy receiving any one of the Big Four in a deal for Upton (along with some other throw-ins).
And then there was this little nugget that Marc Topkin left us with yesterday:
Latest from #Rays: Nothing is close, any action likely would be near or at deadline
Despite the relative quietness of the rumors, there is reason to believe the Rays will be active today. The Rays love to wait for the deadline to make moves, since the market tends to get at its most expensive and desperate then, so I’m still relatively hopeful that they’ll make a trade today. The trade deadline is 4pm today, so it could be an exciting day.
Things continue to be very quiet concerning B.J. Upton, and it’s beginning to look more and more likely that the Tampa Bay Rays end up not trading him this year. Hunter Pence is off the market now, though, so it’s possible that teams will start inquiring on Upton again.
This is more speculation than rumor, but Jon Heyman had something to say about Upton this morning:
#braves should go for the gusto & grab b.j. upton, who could be great. scout: "he’ll take off when once leaves TB.’’
Also, Ken Rosenthal is claiming the Braves are “almost certain” to end up with an outfielder before the deadline. The trick is, will it B.J. Upton or one of the other outfielders on the market? According to Rosenthal, the Braves are interested in a wide range of names: B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Ryan Ludwick, Carlos Quentin, and Josh Willingham.
Upton will probably be the most expensive to acquire of any of these players, but he’s also probably the best overall player (and teams seem to believe he still has upside). It’ll be interesting to see how much the Braves are willing to pay to upgrade, considering they already have the NL Wild Card spot all but locked up.
For more on the Rays and the trade deadline, follow SB Nation Tampa Bay on Twitter or Facebook.
Philadelphia is rocking the sports world. Earlier the city shocked the NFL, and this evening they broke the bank for Houston OF Hunter Pence. Not stopping with the aforementioned top prospects, the Phillies will send four players in total and receive cash.
The trade is official. Pence was pulled for the Astro's game against Milwaukee and is giving hugs in the dugout. Pence is set to make $25 mil over the next two season, far less than Upton will pull in arbitration and upping the Rays trade value.
Also to Tampa Bay's advantage, the selling price is going through the roof. The remaining feasible OF's are Denard Span, Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton, of which Bossman is the most reasonable. Suitors include Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Washington and Atlanta (in order of likelihood).
The Nats are currently tied to Span, the Reds to Bourn, and Atlanta is looking desperate. It's reported they offered at least four pitchers to Houston, but this would not be an ideal trade for the Rays. The Bay needs power hitting and of the Braves top prospects, eight are pitchers, two are hitters. One is Freddie Freeman (their Evan Longoria at 1B) and the other a shortstop batting .235 in single-A. The Rays would be trading for Freeman, not the other way around. Not happening.
In the meantime, Upton is still in the lineup as the Rays start a three game series in Seattle.
From Ken Rosenthal:
And Jon Morosi:
Singleton and Cosart are in the Pence deal, source says.
Make no mistake: this is an insane price. The Phillies just gave up their top hitting and pitching prospect (both ranked in the Top 50) to acquire an above average outfielder, but by no means a great one. As Marc Hulet noted over at FanGraphs earlier today, the Astros are receiving a similar return to what the Blue Jays received when they traded Roy Halladay to the Phillies -- but Hunter Pence is no Roy Halladay.
Of course, this deal does make the Phillies a better team in the short term, and they have such a deep payroll and farm system that they don't have to worry about trading away prospects. They also have added motivation to win now, as their team is structured around aging veterans that could start to decline in a year or two (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Chase Utley, etc.). If Pence can help put them over the top and win a World Series, he was definitely worth the acquisition.
That said, the Astros have to be very pleased with the return they're getting on Pence. Two top 50 prospects is a great return, and the Astros are also receiving two PTBNLs in the deal. Considering their farm system has been one of the worst in the majors in recent years, Cosart and Singleton will be welcome additions.
As for the B.J. Upton rumors, this deal should only help the Tampa Bay Rays, as it raises the price for outfielders. There are fewer teams still on the market for a bat, but Atlanta is out there and motivated to make a deal, and now there aren’t many other options for them to pursue. At this point, they’re probably the Rays’ best shot for an Upton trade.
UPDATE: From Zachary Levine, Houston Chronicle:
The Hunter Pence trade is official. Pence and cash to Phils for Singleton, Cosart, Josh Zeid and a player to be named.
For more on how this trade affects the MLB trade market, see Daniel Russell's piece here.
After some intense few days at the beginning of the week, where it felt like B.J. Upton was about to get traded to 10 different teams simultaneously, the rumor mill has switched gears over the last couple days. Since the Carlos Beltran trade went down, Upton has barely been mentioned at all in trade discussions. And just yesterday, Joe Maddon explicitly stated that he expects nobody from the Rays’ current roster to get traded:
"I really would anticipate that we’re probably going to have the same guys over the next week,’’ Maddon said. "And two weeks, three weeks … " (Marc Topkin, St. Petersburg Times)
Meanwhile, the outfielder trade market is starting to shape up. Hunter Pence and Denard Span seem to be the two hot outfielders at the moment, with the Phillies and Nationals hot on the tail of those two. The Indians supposedly filled their outfield hole yesterday by trading for Kosuke Fukudome. And the Braves…well, they’re still out there and would still like to add someone and have been linked to a range of outfielders, but there haven’t been any large rumors about them in some time.
So where does this leave the Rays and B.J. Upton? Is this calm a good thing or bad thing? Well, it’s impossible to say; for some teams, a lack of rumors might be a sign that no trade will happen, but the Rays always operate in stealth-mode. Their trades are rarely rumored about or leaked beforehand, and they have been known to publicly say things and then do the exact opposite a few days later.
In many ways, Uptons is a comparable player to Hunter Pence. Both are 3-4 WAR outfielders that are getting more expensive through arbitration. Pence will probably bring back more since he has an extra year of team control left, but recent rumors have suggested the Astros are asking for a huge return for him. If teams get priced out of Pence, they may turn to Upton and feel he’s a better deal, even if the Rays have high demands as well.
In short, I wouldn’t lower your guard just because few rumors have mentioned Upton recently. He’s the Rays’ best trade chip, and there is a high demand on the market for outfielders right now. There are still two and a half days left before we hit the deadline, so strap in for a ride.
It has been a busy day for trades in Major League Baseball.
First the Blue Jays pulled off a massive, eight player, three way deal to get Colby Rasmus from St. Louis in exchange for Edwin Jackson and other pieces. Now we are getting word that the New York Mets are about to move Carlos Beltran to the defending champion San Francisco Giants for stud pitching prospect Zack Wheeler.
Beltran, a 38-year old outfielder, had been on the block for months, and a move was an absolutely certainty. If the return is accurate and the Mets do in fact get Wheeler, as Buster Olney has reported via twitter, then the Mets have gotten more than many people expected them to get in a deal for Beltran.
With the Jays and Giants both acquiring center fielders Wednesday, the number of suitors left for Tampa Bay Rays outfielder B.J. Upton is thinning. San Francisco had expressed interest in Upton, saying they liked his defense in their big ballpark. Still in play for his services are Atlanta, Washington, Cleveland, and Philadelphia, whom reportedly thought they were in play for Beltran before he was ultimately traded to the Giants.
Update 1:30PM: Looks like the deal is done, with the Blue Jays getting St. Louis Cardinals OF Colby Rasmus plus pitchers Trever Miller, Brian Tallet and P.J. Walters in exchange for Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, Corey Patterson, and Mark Rzepczynski. ESPN's Buster Olney first reported the deal's final name's via twitter, adding that Miller will get flipped back to the White Sox.
The American League East got even tougher Wednesday as Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos appears to have pulled off a monster three way deal with the Chicago White Sox and possibly the St. Louis Cardinals.
So far, we have confirmation that White Sox right-hander, and former Tampa Bay Ray, Edwin Jackson along with 3B Mark Teahen have been traded to the Blue Jays in exchange for reliever Jason Frasor and prospect Zach Stewart.
Reports are coming in that Edwin Jackson will not last long in Toronto and that the Jays may immediately flip him to the St. Louis Cardinals for embattled outfielder Colby Rasmus. Rasmus, a talented young outfielder, has been on his way out from St. Louis for some time as he has repeatedly gotten in public spats with manager Tony LaRussa. For Jackson, Toronto becomes his fifth different franchise in his young career, with possibly a sixth on the horizon.
There had been rumblings lately that the Rays were interested in Rasmus and ESPN's Buster Olney indicated that Tampa Bay had offered one of Niemann, Davis, or Cobb to the Cardinals for the outfielder. Having tried to acquire Rasmus themselves, losing out on him to a division rival would be a double blow to the Rays as the odds are already stacked against them in the increasingly competitive AL East.
The rumors concerning Tampa Bay Rays centerfielder B.J. Upton just keep coming. Over the past couple days, there have been a wide range of teams that have supposedly expressed interest in him: the Giants, Indians, Braves, Pirates, Reds, Cardinals, Royals, and Nationals. Or in other words, almost everyone.
For what it’s worth, the Nationals have been the most talked about possible landing spot for Upton. But I remain somewhat skeptical that a deal with them will work out…and no, it’s not because they traded for Jonny Gomes last night. The problem seems to be that the Nats and Rays are far apart on a package:
Umm, really. Detwiler and Peacock are fine prospects and they would make good spare parts in a trade, but Upton by himself should still be worth more than just the two of them. Neither of them reached Baseball America’s preseason Top 100 ranking, and considering that the Rays are driving Upton’s value up and up, I’ve got to imagine he brings back at least one player within the Top 100. Detwiler is a 25-year-old reliever that’s posted mediocre numbers in Triple-A, and Peacock is a 23-year-old starter that just reached Triple-A and has moderate upside. If the Nationals are balking at trading those two players…well, then they’re even worse of a match than I thought initially.
Of course, it’s worth remember that when the Rays are concerned, you never really know what’s going to happen. Rumors can be swirling about one team, but then the Rays end up actually trading with someone nobody had on the radar. They may say they’re not going to sign a $7 million closer, but then they go and trade for Rafael Soriano. So as always, it’s best to remain skeptical and wait to see what shakes up.
An official who spoke with the Rays over the weekend said that while they’re not trading James Shields, they’ll decide later this week on players like Johnny Damon and Kyle Farnsworth. (Jayson Stark, ESPN)
While B.J. Upton, James Shields, and Kyle Farnsworth have all had their names tossed around in trade rumors recently, this is the first time that Johnny Damon, Jeff Niemann, and Wade Davis have been mentioned. Not that it’s unexpected or weird for them to be considered possible trade pieces — I recently included Niemann and Damon on my list of the top six Rays likely to be dealt at this season’s trading deadline. Here’s a quick summary of my take on both of them:
#5 Jeff Niemann: The Rays are going to need to trade at least one starting pitcher within the next year, as Alex Cobb is already forcing himself into the rotation and the Rays have a glut of pitching prospects in the high minors. Niemann seems the most likely to be traded, as he has lower upside than Wade Davis and his injury history is extensive. He’s flashed some signs of effectiveness since returning from the DL earlier this month, so the Rays might be able to convince a club to buy high on him.
#6 Johnny Damon: Cheap, effective, and signed to a one-year deal. He likely won’t be in high demand as his defense has declined and he’s mainly been a DH for the Rays. There aren’t any contending AL clubs that need a DH, so the Rays may end up trading him to an NL club as an extra outfielder. He likely won’t bring back much of a return, though.
I don’t see Wade Davis getting dealt, as he just signed a team-friendly extension this offseason and the Rays would be selling very low on him right now. The Rays need to give Davis time to work through his performance issues, but he still appears to have the upside of becoming a solid middle of the rotation starter.
This should come as no surprise to Rays fans, as the Rays have fallen out of the playoff hunt in recent weeks and will likely be looking to sell at the deadline. The question is, though, should the Rays trade him? As I pointed out on DRaysBay recently, the Rays are in the driver’s seat with Farnsworth:
While the Rays’ bullpen has a 3.62 ERA, they haven’t been as impressive as you’d think; that ERA ranks as 18th best in the majors, and when you look at their performance from a defense-independent perspective, they’ve posted a 4.09 FIP – 7th worst in the majors. Farnsworth has been one of the lone consistent, effective relievers in the bullpen, so it’d seem like folly to trade him right now.
In the end, it depends on what other teams are offering. If someone overwhelms the Rays with a big package for Farnsworth, there’s little stopping them from trading him. But if they don’t get any packages they like, the Rays can hold onto Farnsworth and content themselves with having an effective, cheap closer for the next season and a half.
As a Rays fan, I wouldn’t be disappointed if the Rays end up holding onto Farnsworth. His option for next season is only for $3.3 million, meaning the Rays already have a cheap, effective closer locked up for 2012. And considering how horrible the rest of the Rays’ bullpen has been recently — Monday night’s late-inning loss to the Athletics is still fresh in my mind — that looks more and more attractive every day.
This report comes from Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe:
B.J. Upton, OF, Rays – The Nationals are considering offering the moon for him. There are a few factors. Some of the Nationals people feel Upton could use a change of scenery where his talents would be maximized. Also, he grew up with Ryan Zimmerman, and the feeling is Zimmerman would be a good influence on Upton, a good guy whose effort is inconsistent. The Rays have never felt that Upton would blossom in Tampa.
Eh, color me unimpressed — I don’t think the Nationals have what it takes to put together a huge package for Upton. Despite the talk of them “offering the moon” for Upton, there’s no way top prospect Bryce Harper is on the table. And after him, the Nationals don’t have many other attractive pieces.
Tyler Clippard? Sure, he’s a good relief pitcher (1.73 ERA, 3.33 FIP), but he’s…well, a relief pitcher. He’s also entering arbitration, so while he’d be a fine part to have thrown in a deal, there’s no way the Rays will take him as a centerpiece. Relievers — even the good ones — are simply too replaceable.
Derek Norris? He’s a fine catching prospect, but he’s currently hitting .206 in Double-A, raising concerns about how his batting average will translate as he gets higher in the minors. Of course, he’s hitting for power (12 home runs) and flashing great plate discipline (18% walk rate), so he’s still a valuable hitter; my point is merely that he’s no star-studded prospect. Again, he’d be a fine player to acquire, but he wouldn’t get the deal done all by himself.
Ian Desmond? He’s been tossed around a lot in trade talks, as the Nationals seem willing to deal him, but do the Rays really need another no hit, all glove middle infielder? Reid Brignac performed that roll for the Rays for the majority of this season, and he’s been demoted to Triple-A now. I understand that Desmond still has upside, but he’s 25-years-old and beginning to reach that point where what you see is what you get. I’m not a huge fan — that .267 wOBA isn’t very attractive — and I can’t see him being the centerpiece of an Upton trade.
I’m sure the Rays would love Danny Espinosa, but I highly doubt the Nationals are willing trade him. And if that’s the case, it may be that the Nationals simply can’t put together a solid enough package for B.J. Upton. The Rays are going to try and shoot high, getting as much back as possible for Upton, and I think these pieces are enough to get the job done.
Over the last couple days, there have been lots of rumors swirling about B.J. Upton. When Desmond Jennings was promoted a few days ago, there was a Twitter storm of people anticipating that Upton had been traded, but that was just the prelude to the storm; since that time, the rumors surrounding Upton have intensified ten fold.
The most recent rumors surrounding Upton were tweeted last night by Ken Rosenthal. The word on the street is that Upton is becoming an alternative option for teams that are considering trading for Carlos Beltran. While Beltran is the better player currently, Upton is under team control for longer and would potentially be able to bring back a compensation draft pick once he hits free agency after 2012. By comparison, if a team traded for Carlos Beltran right now, they would receive nothing except two months of a great outfielder.
There have been multiple teams listed as interested in Upton, but a few names are sticking out from the rest: the Giants, Nationals, Braves, and Phillies are all being tossed around liberally. Of course, with the Rays’ track record, Upton will likely get traded to a team that no one expected.
As far as Upton’s trade value, here’s what I had to say about it over at DRaysBay recently:
So as tempting as it is to want and believe this is some new, improved version of Upton, it’s not – we’re seeing a very, very similar player to what we saw last season. Upton’s still very valuable, but it’s likely that another team will overvalue him due to his homerun power this year. He’s a valuable trade chip as it is, so if the Rays can get some team to overpay for him, they’d be silly not to go for it. Upton’s trade value is probably at its very peak right now – let’s take advantage.
Upton is the Rays’ biggest trade chip outside of James Shields (who they seem loathe to trade), and he should bring back a large package. The Rays will probably try to milk Upton for his full worth, waiting for Beltran to be off the table first to increase demand, so we could be in for a bit of a wait.
This should come as no surprise to most fans, but the most recent trade rumor surrounding James Shields is that the Rays have pulled him from the market. At first the Rays were saying they wouldn’t trade Shields to the Yankees or Red Sox, but now it appears they don’t want to trade him at all.
Surprising? No, not really. Here’s what I had to say recently over at DRaysBay about the prospect of the Rays trading James Shields:
Remember how much the Rays got back when they traded Matt Garza? Shields should bring back a similar package, if not an even larger one.
While Shields’ value right now is sky high – seven complete games and a 2.33 ERA will do that – I don’t see the Rays trading him at the deadline this season. I’m sure there will be plenty of teams looking to add an ace starter down the stretch, but the Rays’ rotation looks surprisingly brittle at the moment; Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann are both giant question marks, and the Rays only have one pitcher in the minors that’s conceivably ready to step in full-time in the majors (Alex Cobb). Trading Shields would leave some big question marks about the club for the remainder of the season, and it would make the 2012 pitching staff weaker as well.
If the Rays were going to trade Shields right now, they would need to be overwhelmed with a trade offer, and I don’t think there are many teams out there looking for pitching help that can offer such a package. Maybe the Rays are doing this move to increase the offers for Shields, but my guess is that this rumor is 90% truth to 10% negotiating ploy. The Rays are truly in the driver’s seat with James Shields; they don’t have to trade him, and they better be sure they’re getting a HUGE offer back if they do trade him.
Better luck next time, everyone. It looks like James Shields is staying in Tampa Bay for the time being.
#Rays Jennings called up, Brignac optioned to durham
It’s about time that Desmond Jennings got promoted to play left field — apparently he’ll start there tomorrow — but the move to demote Brignac is a bit of a shocker. Many people were speculating that B.J. Upton was involved in a trade, considering that he was pulled from the game for no apparent reason, which forced the Rays to lose the DH and play Damon in left field. Odd? Certainly. And isn’t it weird that the Rays now have five outfielders on their roster: Jennings, Joyce, Upton, Fuld, and Ruggiano? Something feels off here.
Topkin got a quote from Upton stating that he hadn’t been traded and nobody within the industry has heard anything about an Upton deal, which seems to squash those rumors. But still….something just doesn’t feel right. Brignac has struggled mightily this season and deserves a demotion based on his pitiful offense (.207 wOBA), but this leaves Elliot Johnson and Sean Rodriguez to split the duties at shortstop. It’s certainly a very odd roster right now.
I’m thinking it’s either one of two things: Upton did get traded and the shoe just hadn’t dropped yet, or else Friedman decided to demote Brignac because he didn’t want to send Fuld or Ruggiano through waivers. Once Upton is dealt, they’d both be fine outfield depth, so it seems the Rays may have to carry an imbalanced roster for a couple of days in order to keep them both around.
Either way, it points to the Rays dealing Upton sometime soon, so the writing is on the walls. The Desmond Jennings Era in Tampa Bay has officially begun.
It looks like the Tampa Bay Rays have decided to be sellers at this year's trade deadline. After the Rays lost 10-4 to the Kansas City Royals on Friday, and the Yankees and Red Sox both won to pick up another game in the standings, Tampa Bay is now 8.5 games out of first place in the AL East and 6.5 games back in the wild card chase.
The first change has already been made. In a move that was maybe too long in coming, Desmond Jennings has been recalled from Triple-A Durham and is on his way to Kansas City to join the big club. Jennings made his Rays debut last season, playing in 17 regular-season games and two more in the American League Division Series.
Reid Brignac was optioned back to Durham to make room on the Rays' 25-man roster for Jennings. Still, you wonder if a trade is in the works. Jennings has long been seen as the eventual replacement in center field for B.J. Upton, and Upton's name has been all over trade rumors this month. Is the Rays' first deadline deal about to go down? Stay tuned...