Many feel that it is a forgone conclusion that the Rays will trade either James Shields or Matt Garza this off-season. The logic is simple: the Rays need a spot for Jeremy Hellickson and Shields and Garza are the Rays’ two highest paid pitchers and are the closest to free agency.
But Ken Rosenthal suggests what we have been saying for a while. The Rays are more likely to hold on to all six starting pitchers until after the 2011 season (Ed. note: actually we have said they will hold on to all 6 until at least the trading deadline)…
Matt Garza, for different reasons, also is unlikely to be moved…Hellickson is ready to join the Rays’ rotation. But a potential surplus quickly could become a shortage if the team traded Garza or another starter…At that point, the Rays would be one injury away from rushing a prospect or employing a six-year minor-league free agent to pitch in the AL East…Garza, who is earning $3.35 million this season and has three years of arbitration remaining, already is drawing long looks from clubs with potential interest….The Rays, however, are more likely to trade a starter after next season, when their next wave of pitching prospects will be closer to the majors…Left-hander Matt Moore and righties Alex Colome, Nick Barnese and Joe Cruz all ended the season at High Class A, and one or more of them could reach Triple A next season.
While Garza (~$5.25M) and Shields ($4.25M) will make a lot of money in 2011, their salaries are still cheap for what their talents bring to the Rays. And with players like Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and Rafael Soriano unlikely to be back next season, we have already shown that the Rays can easily afford to keep both Shields and Garza (with room to spare).
Let’s face it. The Rays love to hoard players. And their favorite type of players are underpaid starting pitchers.
While it will pain many to read this, we wouldn’t be surprised if Jeremy Hellickson starts the 2011 season back in triple-A just as David Price did in 2009. Only Hellickson’s stay could be considerably longer (July?). The only other option would be to move Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis to the bullpen. But in doing that, the Rays risk losing value from those pitchers to perform a job that could easily be performed by a cheap reliever from the free agent market.
While not ideal, the Rays would much prefer the problem of too many starting pitchers than a scenario in which they don’t have enough.