Last night the Rays acquired outfielder Matt Joyce from the Detroit Tigers for Edwin Jackson.

What this trade means for the rotation…
Since the end of the World Series it seemed obvious that the Rays were going to trade either Andy Sonnanstine or Edwin Jackson. To most, Jackson seemed to be the logical choice as his peripheral numbers suggested the 14 wins in 2008 were a bit overrated. And despite a possible move to the bullpen he would have been a very expensive middle reliever.

With Jackson out of the picture, Sonny is a lock for the 4th spot in the rotation. That opens a spot that will eventually be filled by David Price. But will King David fill it in when the team breaks camp? Andrew Friedman made it clear earlier in the week that there is no guarantee Price is in the rotation to start the season. With only 5 starts above double-A, it would not surprise us to see Price in Durham for 5-6 starts to start the season. That means Jeff Niemann, Mitch Talbot and Jason Hammel will battle for the final spot in Spring Training. Since Talbot still has a minor league option, look for Niemann to get the nod as the Rays try to showcase him for other teams and then trade him to the first contender that loses a starting pitcher to injury.

What this means for the lineup…
Joyce fits in immediately at the 6-spot in the lineup as the most-days right fielder for the next six years. If the Rays are able to sign a player like Jason Giambi or Milton Bradley, Joyce falls to #7 with Evan Longoria at #6 to keep the R-L-R-L lineup. But that is another story for another day. In other words, the Rays could do a lot worse than Joyce at 6/7. And more importantly, it means the Rays don’t have to go through this mess again next year.

What this means for the roster
We will touch on this a bit more later, but this move probably seals the door on Jonny Gomes’ career with the Rays. Already a candidate to be non-tendered on Friday night, that now seems like a foregone conclusion. 2009 will be much less Johnny-terrific. Now the question becomes, do the Rays have room for Gabe Gross? If they tender a contract to Gross, Fernando Perez is almost certainly in Durham in 2009.

What this tells us about the Rays’ front office…
The Rays have the quietest front office in baseball. Even though the Rays were talking with the Tigers for three days, we never heard a peep. Is that by design? Maybe. Most of the Rays trades seem to come from out of left field (so to speak). Did we hear anything before the Gross trade or the Willy Aybar trade or the Chad Bradford trade?

Do the Rays make it a point to keep everything under wraps as tightly as possible? Or is the front office still young enough, and the Rays still a relatively new player, that the national media has yet to establish connections within the front office?

One thing that is becoming very clear. No matter who we, as fans, think the Rays are targeting, most of the time they will get somebody we were not even thinking about. We don’t know about the rest of you, but we love it.

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • Marc Lancaster says the Rays and Tigers have been talking since day one of the winter meetings and that at one point they were working on a three-team deal with the Mariners in which JJ Putz would have gone to Detroit. That seemed to be falling through so the Tigers and Rays decided to keep things simple and make it one-for-one. [Tampa Tribune]
  • Two writers are reporting that Milton Bradley has become the Cubs top target to play right field with Raul Ibanez possibly as a fall-back plan. The Rays will likely wait out the negotiations and hope that Bradley and the Cubs fail to reach a deal. If that happens, the Rays may be next in line for Bradley despite the acquisition of Matt Joyce. With the Rays, Bradley can spend a considerable amount of time at DH…Right now it looks as if the Rays top two targets, Bradley and Jason Giambi are both likely heading elsewhere. Would the Rays prefer Ibanez or Bobby Abreu at $8-10 million (and a first round draft pick in the case of Ibanez) over Ken Griffey at $3-4 million? [MLB Trade Rumors]
  • Andrew Friedman indicated that the Rays are more likely to acquire a relief pitcher via trade, noting that the Rays need the flexibility of being able to send the acquisition to the minors. Why is this important? Because it took Troy Percival two months to decide he needed back surgery and the Rays are not sure if he will be available to open the season. [Rays Report]
  • In the same report, Andrew Friedman said he would not be surprised if the Rays lose as many as three players in today’s Rule 5 draft. Which reminds us. Did you guys bid farewell to Eddie Morlan yet? You only have a couple of hours left to do so. [Rays Report]
  • Joe Maddon says he is not concerned about members of the Rays participating in the World Baseball Classic. Marc Topkin lists several players that could be chosen. [The Heater]
  • Joe Maddon guesses Team USA will take Carl Crawford and a starting pitcher from the Rays roster. Of course that is only the American players. [Tampa Tribune]
  • A recent study showed the Tampa Bay Rays were directly responsible for over $100 million in direct spending by tourists in 2008. The study also showed that more than half of the Rays’ 2008 attendance (1.8 million) came from outside Piniellas County. [Tampa Bay Business Journal]
  • Baseball America has the complete list of minor leaguers eligible for today’s Rule 5 draft including 43 members of the Rays’ organization. [Baseball America]

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7 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Two other names the Rays might consider are Dunn and Burrell. One of Bradley, Giambi, Dunn, Burrell and Abreu will accept a contract around 8-10 mil and sign with the Rays. I really cant see it not happening. Of course, guys like Griffey or Rivera could be our last resorts.

    - bossmanjunior333

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  2. DirtbagFan says:

    hmmm... gonna have to ponder this move for a while; let it digest...

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  3. Robert Rittner says:

    I think there is another roster implication of the Joyce deal. Friedman has suggested that Joyce might start the season in the minors, and I have read on some Tiger blogs that he may have been brought up a bit before schedule and could use some more seasoning.

    What that could mean is that there is no immediate need to discard any of the Gross/Perez/Ruggiano and maybe even Gomes outfielders (well, probably some, but one less). If no good return is available now, it gives the Rays a bit more time to seek better compensation. And given the Rays very conservative approach to promoting prospects plus their general unwillingness simply to give away even lesser talents for nothing, I think they may indeed begin Joyce in Durham and keep Gross as the lefty right fielder.

    I think were Joyce a right handed hitter with the same skills, there would be more likelihood he starts the season in TB, but as we have a similar if less highly regarded lefty already, he may not.

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  4. The Professor says:

    great point

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  5. Justin says:

    Should we be sad about seeing Eddie Morland go?

    If we were, why did we not put him on the roster?

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  6. The Professor says:

    I don't know if we should be sad, but the move was questionable at best. Morlan was only mediocre this past season, but he is only one year removed from being one of the best relief pitcher prospects in baseball and he is still very young.

    I just assume that he is a victim of numbers and the Rays may know something we don't

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  7. DirtbagFan says:

    ...still pondering

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