Yesterday we presented our updated Trade Value Index (TVI). With a little over a week until next Thursday’s trade deadline, rather than take a look at the players the Rays may target we will take a look at the players most likely to be sent packing should Andrew Friedman and Co. decide to pull the trigger on a deal.

Gerry Hunsicker, Rays’ Senior VP for baseball operations and Friedman’s guru, has made two of the best deadline deals in recent memory. In 2004, Hunsicker landed Carlos Beltran and 6 years earlier he traded for Randy Johnson. While the Astros failed to reach the World Series in either year, both Beltran and Johnson were key figures in Houston’s playoff runs.

On the other hand Friedman sounds more like a guy that is willing to sit on the talent in place.

Keep in mind all of the “rumors” in the media recently are 99% speculation. They have a simple formula and the Rays always fit the formula. The media looks at a player and picks the teams still in contention that would view that player as an improvement. Then they decide which teams have the stronger farm system. The Rays will almost always satisfy both criteria.

The problem is the Rays are not like most ball clubs and are in the process of redefining success for small-market clubs. We feel that the Rays are more likely to follow the blueprint of the Angels who rarely make in-season deals and prefer to hold on to their homegrown talent.

That being said, there is still a chance the Rays will swing a deal for a mid-level player such as a middle reliever to add depth to a staff that has suffered a number of injuries. There is also a need for a right-handed hitting outfielder as the Rays have struggled against lefties this season and possibly a utility infielder that is an upgrade over Ben Zobrist and can serve as a backup shortstop.

So if a trade is made, which players are most likely to be used as bait…

Jason Hammel 3:2
Any deals involving pitchers will almost certainly involve Hammel to open a spot in either the bullpen or the rotation (with either Edwin Jackson or Andy Sonnanstine moving to the bullpen). Hammel can still bring the heat with a mid-90s fastball, but do any teams still think he can be a starter?

Jeff Niemann 2:1

While other teams will certainly ask for David Price, Wade Davis or Jeremy Hellickson, Niemann is the piece of value that the Rays would prefer to trade. While certainly Niemann’s star shines less brightly these days, he is still young, and very big and he has a lot of upside.

Jonny Gomes 3:1
Like Hammel, any deal for a right-handed hitting outfielder will almost certainly involve Gomes going in the other direction. Nobody doubts Gomes’ power or his intensity, and if given regular playing time, he could be a solid DH or outfielder for another team.

Fernando Perez 7:2
Perez has loads of talent but he still struggles with strikeouts. The Rays have no room in center with BJ Upton but could Perez play right field in ’09 and be the Rays leadoff hitter? Or is he expendable? Like Niemann, Perez is one player we can see the Rays using as trade-bait.

Ben Zobrist 5:1
Whether as a utility infielder or a starting shortstop, Benny Boo Boo has proven that he can be a major leaguer. He will never be an all-star, but there are plenty of teams out there with worse options plaing short or second.

Mitch Talbot 5:1
Talbot would not be the key player in a trade, but he could be the arm that puts a deal over the top. He is a bit of a tweener. He has shown flashes of brilliance, like his performance in ’06 SL playoffs, but he has been very up-and-down since moving to Durham. There is some upside and there does not seem to be a future for him with the Rays.

Dale Thayer 7:1
Thayer who seemed destined to be a career minor leaguer, has blossomed this season in Durham with a 1.43 ERA and 57Ks in 50.1 innings with only 17 walks. With Jeff Niemann and Juan Salas also in Durham as bullpen insurance, Thayer is certainly expendable. He is also Rule 5 eligible this winter, so now may be a good time to move him.

Eric Hinske 7:1
Hinske is a free agent at the end of the year, and with Gabe Gross and a healthy Cliff Floyd, Hinske is certainly expendable.
But he has also been one of the Rays better hitters this season. Would the Rays risk moving an offensive contributor with the offense struggling a bit?

Juan Salas 8:1
If the Rays don’t trade for a relief pitcher, Salas is probably the next guy up from Durham when somebody is needed. He has pitched well for Durham, with a 2.12 ERA and 38Ks in 34 innings with only 8 walks. Might somebody be enticed by the comparisons of Salas’ cutter to Mariano Rivera’s?

James Houser 8:1
Like Jeff Niemann, Houser is another name that the Rays will counter with when teams ask for one of the big pitching prospects. He is a tall lefty with some upside. Could be more tempting than a Mitch Talbot.

Justin Ruggiano 8:1
Ruggiano is similar to Mitch Talbot in that he is a bit of tweener. He posts good numbers in triple-A and could be serviceable as a 4th outfielder in the major leagues, but does he have a future with the Rays? Again, would not be the key player in a trade, but he could be the bat that puts a deal over the top.

Joel Guzman 10:1
Won’t be 24 until November, and while he has a ton of power and a very good glove with plenty of positional flexibility, he still strikes out way too much (88 in 355 ABs this year) and his OBP is embarassing (.271). He will also be out of options in ’09, so a move now or this winter may be necessary. Might somebody else be tempted by the talent?

Shawn Riggans 10:1

To us, this is the most intriguing name on the list. Riggans can hit. He still has plenty of room for improvement behind the plate and he is not that young (even for a catcher; 28 in a few days). The Rays also have Mike DiFeLice in Durham. DiFelice will be on the team in September no matter what happens, but would Maddon prefer DiFelice on a potential playoff roster? There is also John Jaso who was recently promoted to Durham and could make Riggans even more expendable.

Reid Brignac 10:1
Have the Rays soured a bit on Brignac? We can’t see Brignac being traded, especially until Tim Beckham shows that he is a major leaguer-in-waiting. And there is also that open right field slot in ’09. Could the Rays give Brignac a shot at RF in spring training? Still, no matter what the plans are, teams will ask for Brignac. Will the Rays bite?

Dan Johnson 12:1
Having a huge season since being demoted to Durham. Unfortunately, he has shown little or no power in the majors and has very little positional flexibility for a guy that is better suited for a bench role. Still, he has big league experience which a NL contender might value.

Al Reyes 15:1
A free agent at the end of the year, but has been struggling with injuries which make him more valuable to the Rays than to any suitor.

Chris Mason 15:1
Would anybody want him?

Gary Glover 20:1
Ditto

Grant Balfour 50:1

Another name that is very intriguing to us. If there is any inkling in the Rays front office that this recent run by Balfour is a fluke, then now is the time to trade the power righty and sell high. But everything we have seen indicates that Balfour is the real-deal and maybe he just needed to find some confidence which he has plenty of right now.

 
 

9 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Riggans, Really? I mean catchers are very valuable, so maybe he can save some of the farm system. Riggans though I belive that he caught Garza’s 1 hitter, and he’s some good power, has been fairly clutch when he’s gotten the playing time. I think that the argument can be made that Navi is having a fluke year (offensively) and Riggans makes better, more solid contact. I think that Jaso might be more expandable then Riggans, and have more value. (younger, more of an upside)

  2. Anonymous says:

    I certainly wouldn’t like it, but it may become a possibility that a guy like Hellickson or W. Davis becomes part of a trade if it is for a big name player. The Rockies want one of the two for Fuentes, but I really hope Friedman doesn’t bite on that. Honestly, with the low price Rauch went for, perhaps the market price for RPs will be set low. That being said, who knows what the price will be on lefties (Fuentes, Marte, Grabow, Guardado are four big possibilities…with Sherrill being an option although the O’s have indicated that they’d need to be swept away by an offer to pull the trigger).

    McGee isn’t going anywhere, especially due to his injury. I’m thankful of that, because I think he has the most electric pure stuff of the system (yes, Price included).

  3. DirtbagFan says:

    I’d pencil Balfour in as the Rays 2010 closer. He’s got the stuff and I haven’t seen anything as of late to make me believe that its a fluke.
    He does seem like the type of player who can get into his own head and start downward-spiraling if a few games get away from him, though.

  4. Sean G says:

    a. i agree there is ZERO chance that Davis or Price gets moved.

    b. i think it is VERY unlikely that Hellickson gets traded, but i do think that if the Rays do decide at the last minute to make a big splash, Hellboy is the one to go, so there is at least a little chance

  5. Sean Hogan says:

    Just out of curiosity, what do you think the Rays did/could have offered for Rauch? I heard someone say Brignac, but have some trouble believing that. I’m a Nats fan bitter they didn’t shop around, and figured this would be an appropriate place to ask.

  6. The Professor says:

    good question. i was a little surprised the Nats didnt get a little more.

    Havent watched a lot of Rauch, but he doesn’t strikeout a lot of guys for a closer. looks more like a 7th or 8th inning guy on most teams, but he seems to have blossomed this season in the control department. SHould be a solid bullpen guy and he is relatively cheap this year and next and isn’t a free agent until after 2010 (i think).

    Brignac would be a little steep. Niemann? The Nats probably would have taken Niemann, but i am not certain the Rays would have gone that high without another mid-level prospect thrown in..

    How about Fernando Perez? CF, good OBP, tons of speed, still learning to switch-hit. but strikes out a lot. Problem is, i know the Nats really don’t need anymore outfielders. but that seems like the caliber of guy.

    How about a James Houser? double-A. Tall (6’4″) lefty. he is rail-thin and thoughts are that his fastball will blossom once he adds some weight.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Do the Rays really need to trade for a reliever/closer? Percy, wheeler, Glover all capable plus Salas should almost be ready. They really need someone that can swing the wood and add some thump to the lineup.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Correction. I meant to post Balfour instead of Glover. Point the same plenty of help there in the pen and in the minors waiting… The Rays need someone that can get on base with some power.

  9. The Professor says:

    i agree with you. i dont think it is necessary either. i like the idea that Salas and Niemann and Thayer and even DeBarr are down at Durham and all are capable pitchers that could help in the bullpen if needed. and then there is Wade Davis and David Price, either of whom could be a “Joba Chamberlain” type shot in the arm.

    i think the Rays are thinking two things here. One is Reyes and Percy are not dependable due to injuries. the other is that if they pick up a good pitcher…somebody better than Howell/Miller/Balfour/Wheeler/Reyes. Then those guys all “improve” because they get slotted down a spot in the bullpen.

    For example, Wheeler is a very good 8th inning guy, but he would be a great 7th inning guy.

    that is basically how the bullpen got to be good this year. by signing Percival, everybody else slotted down and were better at their new spot.

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