Yesterday we heard the latest rumor of the Washington Nationals apparent interest in BJ Upton and how their General Manager feels a “change of scenery” could be beneficial to Upton’s career. And now we have Ken Rosenthal chiming in with what could easily be mistaken as a story planted by the Rays…

[The Nats] continue to dream of a trade for the Rays’ B.J. Upton, who is from the same part of Virginia as the team’s biggest star, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman…

OK. This is fairly benign. It is no secret that the Nationals are interested in Upton. But when Rosenthal speaks, there is a little extra weight behind the words. Like Peter Gammons, there is good reason to believe Rosenthal is a “friend of the family,” and one of the few reporters that the Rays will actually feed information.

And as we continue to read Rosenthal’s comments we start to see what could be construed as a pro-Rays agenda.

If you are the Rays, what would be your strongest negotiating stance? Make it clear that you are not in a hurry to deal Upton…

It’s difficult to imagine the Rays trading Upton and promoting Desmond Jennings to replace him if they are in contention.

This signals to the other team that they will have start the negotiations with a strong offer. But, you also want to leave the door open and hint that a really strong offer could change their minds…

But Upton is a free agent after the 2012 season, and the Rays are always thinking of ways to get cheaper and better…

If you want 12 Garbage Pail Kids Cards, it is easier to get if the other side’s first offer is 10. Not so easy if their first offer is 5.

Rosenthal even frames the initial offer…

If the Rays could get the right pieces — right-handed setup man Tyler Clippard and a young position prospect perhaps? — maybe they could make an Upton deal work.

The Rays don’t like to spend money on relievers, but Tyler Clippard, whose 112 strikeouts and 91.0 innings in 2010 were both second among National League relievers, is exactly the type of reliever the Rays covet. That is, a swing-and-miss pitcher that can work multiple innings.

In other words, it sure seems like the Rays just made their first offer to the Nationals without actually, you know, making an offer. Brilliant. Sketchy. But brilliant.

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3 Comments

  1. Derek says:

    Bryce Harper is a clubhouse cancer, who could go for a change of scenery.

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  2. Don says:

    The Rays aren't really in contention NOW If they continue with the BJ Uptons of the team...they need a shake up right NOW before its's too late...what better Way then to unload one of their so-called "stars" let all the players know there will be changes if things don't get better...GO for it Rays...try NOW to save the season!

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  3. Harry says:

    Clippard's a local boy, too.

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