[Update 8:40pm] Jayson Stark is reporting that the Rays and Pirates had “very little dialogue” today. This is not surprising and supports the notion that the Rays have made their “final” offer and the Pirates are shopping for better deals. Stark mentions that the Pirates may seek a better deal from the Red Sox who may target Bay if they trade Manny Ramirez…The stare-down continues.
Up until now, we have shied away from most of the trade rumors surrounding the Rays, because most have just been writers telling us what the Rays should or should not do. But for the first time, we are hearing rumors involving the Rays and these rumors seem to have teeth.
If reports are correct, the Rays are having serious conversations with the Pirates about acquiring Jason Bay, who is signed through ’09 and is set to make $7.5 million next season.
The Pirates and Tampa Bay continue to discuss Jason Bay, a process that became deep yesterday, and two prospect names known to be in the mix on the Rays’ end are shortstop Reid Brignac and pitcher Jeremy Hellickson...To be clear, although these names have come up, that does not mean they could be lumped together. Brignac was ranked No. 3 in the rich Tampa system by Baseball America, Hellickson No. 8, and early indications have been that Bay will reap no bounty of prospects.
One can read between those lines and it seems pretty clear the Pirates want Jeremy Hellickson or Reid Brignac. However, most people in the know are saying Hellboy and Brignac are untouchables. We agree the Rays won’t even discuss David Price and Wade Davis, but we have a feeling Hellickson or Brignac could be had in the right deal.
Later in the same piece, Dejan Kovacevic updated the article with this item…
An American League team source just called from Toronto (where the Rays are playing): Says Brignac and pitcher Jeff Niemann are the names coming up most often.
In other words, the Rays are sticking to their guns and insisting the Pirates take Jeff Niemann over one of the top prospects.
Jon Heyman has one source saying the chances of a deal are “50-50”. He also indicates that the Rays offer is the best available, even though Kovacevic says that the Rays have not offered an elite prospect.
No truly elite prospect is being offered for Bay, and no bounty — say, four of a team’s top 10 prospects — is expected, either, as some teams have expressed concern that Bay’s 2008 revival is not far enough removed from his disappointing 2007. That has not stopped management from entertaining offers, though, and doing so seriously…The chance that Bay will stay with the Pirates, the source said, still is better than 50-50.
Right now we have a good old fashioned trade deadline stare-down. Everything we have ever seen from this new Rays’ front office suggests that they will not be the one to blink first. That means no Hellickson. no Brignac.
So now, it seems that the only question is whether another team steps-up and trumps the Rays offer of Niemann (and?) or if the Pirates decide not to trade Bay.