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.