The hottest trade rumor in baseball? Rocco Baldelli to anybody with a need for an outfielder and a surplus of young pitching. When the free agency market entered the land of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest territory, beginning with the $136 million committed by the Cubbies to Alfonso Soriano, Rocco became a rare and attractive asset. With a deal that will see the Northsiders paying a 38 year old “speedster” with a low OBP, $18 million in 2014, Baldelli’s value was suddenly much higher.

It is no secret that the Rays have an abundance of talented outfielders, realized or projected, in the organization. In theory the three outfield spots could be set for years to come with Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli and Delmon Young. Still there are others in the organization that have the talent, on paper and in scouts eyes, to fill those shoes, including Elijah Dukes, Joel Guzman and B. J. Upton. In the case of Upton, his move to the outfield may be necessitated because the Rays are having a hard time finding an 10-foot tall first baseman.

Still there are three ingredients for a championship-caliber team. Pitching, Pitching and Pitching. Unfortunately, the Rays are lacking in major-league ready talent in that department. There are pitchers in the organization, but much of it is at lower levels, such as Wade Davis, Jacob McGee, Mitch Talbot, Andrew Sonnanstine and Jeremy Hellickson. If the Rays are serious about improving the ball club, they need to acquire more talented arms that are either major-league caliber or close to being ready for the big time.

The logical move is to trade one or more of the outfielders in exchange for pitching. During last season, rumors were rampant that Carl Crawford could be moved, yet nothing ever developed and C. C. is still a Ray. Now the hot topic of the hot stove league is Rocco Baldelli. Since the onset of free agency, the value of Crawford and Baldelli have skyrocketed. While not untouchable, Crawford is most likely too expensive for other teams to swallow. That leaves Baldelli as the big piece that is being dangled by the Rays. While several teams are rumored to be interested, no deals appear to be imminent. At this point the Rays appear to be sticking to their demands that top-notch young major league pitching talent be included in any deal that involves Rocco.

around the web…

  • While talks with the Marlins now appear to be non-existent, the latest team to be rumored to be interested in Rocco Baldelli is the Rays’ northern neighbors, the Atlanta Braves. The Braves have an opening in left field and center fielder Andruw Jones is set to becomes a free agent after the 2007 season.
  • MLB Trade Rumors indicates that the Braves are just one of several teams that are after Baldelli. The other teams include the White Sox and the Orioles.
  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution indicates that the players possibly being offered by the Braves are catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, shortstop Yunel Escobar, and Kyle Davies. The Rays may be holding out for pitcher Chuck James. Saltalamacchia and Escobar are considered the Braves top two prospects. The article also states that if the Rays continue to insist on James, the deal will not get done.
  • Inside Pitch also make it clear that any deal will not include Chuck James.
  • In this Roger Mooney’s article, filled with one sentence paragraphs, he suggests that not trading Rocco Baldelli could stunt the growth of the organization.
  • Buried at the bottom of this article is a note that the Rays rejected an offer from the Marlins of starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco for B. J. Upton. Nolasco is considered the least talented of the five young starting pitchers in the Marlins rotation.
  • Here is an in depth look at Josh Hamilton’s tenure as a Chicago Cub. And judging by the title of the website, it appears that they want the Lou Piniella era to last just as long.
  • The Korean Herald believes that the Rays are the perfect situation for Hee-Seop Choi. With the first base position unsettled, Choi will be given an opportunity to final realize the potential that many believed he had when he was younger. However, their rather blunt appraisal says that Choi either put up this season or come back to Korea. In particular, Choi needs to drastically improve his bat speed and knowledge of the strike zone. Two things that will be difficult to adjust at this stage of his career.
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  1. Mac says:

    Also, Choi would come as close as you could get to a ten-foot first baseman.

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