We are now four weeks from the trading deadline and the Rays are once again riding the cusp between being buyers and sellers (although let’s face it, the Rays are always sellers and rarely buyers no matter what the standings look like). But if the Rays do decide to add a big piece, don’t be shocked if Desmond Jennings is the bait that is dangled to other teams.

Why would the Rays consider trading their best position prospect and the player that was supposed to ease the impact of losing Carl Crawford? Let’s make a case…

AGE
Jennings will be 25 in October. TWENTY-FIVE! And Jennings is now in his sixth minor league season. Great prospects don’t take six seasons to reach the big leagues. And great prospects don’t need three seasons in triple-A, even if you are just delaying their arbitration clock. And while he is still considered a top-10 prospect, his clock is ticking. And it is starting to tick louder.

PRODUCTION
Six seasons for Jennings, and how many of those do his numbers say “wow!” Here are his year-by-year numbers. Do any of these lines scream future MLB all-star?

Of course, this ignores his defense which is great. But the Rays already have a great defensive center fielder that can’t hit. And we don’t think “cheaper BJ Upton” is really what we all envisioned for Jennings.

On top of that, he is not even stealing bases this season. He is on pace for 27, which would be a career-low. Brandon Guyer is on pace for 21 steals. Brandon Guyer! Did you guys see how white that guy is?

POSITION
In short, Jennings is a little more expendable because he is not a starting pitcher. He is a center fielder and the Rays have always made it clear they want to be strong up the middle. But there is only so far a glove can carry you. Just ask Reid Brignac.

SELLING HIGH
What if the Rays are souring just a bit on Jennings? We have already heard that there is a chance Guyer, and not Jennings, would replace Upton if BJ is traded. And if the Rays still believe that Jennings is not ready to be an everyday outfielder, the time to deal him may be now.

If the Rays want to make a big splash before the deadline, other teams are going to ask for Alex Cobb or Alex Torres. And we all know how highly the Rays value their pitching prospects.

So if the Rays really want to make a deal. It might take Desmond Jennings. And considering Jennings might still be an elite prospect in the eyes of other teams and might command a big return, now might be a good time to pull the trigger.

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26 Comments

  1. zenny says:

    I agree. The pundits and casual fans would howl, but this is exactly the sort of thing Friedman and crew are so good at - getting other teams to overpay for overrated or overripe talent (see Kazmir, Scott).

    We'd need to get something good in return, and by that I mean a player who can actually hit a little flying spheroid with a wooden stick.

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  2. Matt says:

    Couldn't agree more! Jennings seems like Upton all over again, except without all the k's and the bad attitude. Best idea is to move him while his stock is high. Also, he was rated as the sixth best prospect last year, this year he is eighth so the move would be justifiable if the Rays got someone good in return.

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    • RaysFan says:

      Jennings has played 81 games this year, exactly half a MLB season assuming perfect health.

      He's on pace for 116 runs, 22 HRs, 72 RBIs, 32 SBs (and 2 CS!) and he supposedly plays + defense.

      You have to give the kid some kudos for not having any attitude problems when he is stuck with the one organization in MLB that wouldn't have promoted him by now.

      At some point you need to give the kid a job and 250 ABs in the majors to see what he could do.

      The same could be said of Guyer.

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      • RaysFan says:

        FYI, wasn't really replying to you Matt, just commenting in general.

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      • Chris Mooney says:

        But has Jennings ever shown that he can play 162 games? At this rate, this would be just his second full season out of 6

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    • Mike says:

      Except Bossman was rushed to the bigs way too soon, which I think didn't help him much in the long term. I do think DJ has done more than enough to prove himself in AAA though, and it is past time for him to get a chance to play everyday in St. Pete.

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  3. LoLJFH says:

    If this indeed turns out to be correct (and we have heard more about Guyer in recent months than DJ), it appears Rays will be very active at deadline. Trading a starting CF and a Top 10 outfield prospect tells me that more than 1 club will be involved. I assume NL teams for both.

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  4. Sarah says:

    Yeah, but if WE know Jennings stock if fading, don't the other GMs know the same thing? Why would we be able to get someone good for a prospect we've come to doubt?

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      Well, that's the game that must be played. It only takes one team to be blinded by the "promise." only one scout needs to come back to his team with a glowing report. Maybe other teams think Jennings growth has been stunted by all the babying and just needs the proverbial "change of scenery."

      Like Upton, there is no doubt there is talent there. The question is whether the Rays or another team can find a way to extract it.

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    • LoLJFH says:

      Plans change within an organization, guys stagnate, players jump each other, etc... Fernando Perez was "that guy" here for a while. Nats are on record, per Rosenthal, of saying Upton could probably use a change of scenery. DJ is very good, just getting out played by Guyer. To Org X he may be better than they have on roster or for callups and perfect for "their" system. It's a matter of what someone really wants and hole they feel needs filling through internal and external means. OR, conspiracy theorists: DJ is the guy and Rays are showing off/talking up Guyer to deflect their plans. No..........

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  5. Don says:

    YOu mean EVERYBODYS.... "carl crawford replacement" is going to be traded because he stinks...can you imagine that

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  6. RaysFan says:

    If anything, Jennings' stock has risen this year after a disappointing 2010. The only thing lowering his value is the skepticism brought on by the Rays reluctance to call him up.

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  7. Matt says:

    However, this probably won't happen because there aren't any big name players on the market that aren't rentals. If the Rays want to trade Jennings, that's fine but they better get someone who will be with the team for more than the rest of this year and next year.

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  8. Carlos B says:

    Now I hear that the Rays would trade Damon for the right deal. So he is trade bait. Sprang seem like the right move considering the leadership he's providing in the clubhouse. Jennings yes, Damon no.

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  9. Des from Durham says:

    You trade me and you'll regret it.

    You ask for more power -- I give you more power (career high 11 HRs by July 5th).
    You ask for health -- I've been basically healthy all year (missed less than 10 games)
    You ask for a lead off hitter with stolen base efficency and OBP -- you've got it.

    Instead you've got that mensch Sam Fuld with warning track power again failing in the clutch last night. On many of his diving catches, the Des is still standing and firing back into the infield because I am much faster.

    This is complete foolishness. Kind of like leaving Josh Hamilton unprotected because Justin Ruggiano was a good system guy.

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    • Beth says:

      Ouch! (That's for the Ruggiano/Hamilton reference).

      I'm quite convinced that if the Rays trade Jennings now, he will come back to haunt us. I agree that he's earned a shot (and perhaps Guyer has as well). Our current left field "solutions" are obviously stop-gap (no need to insult Sam Fuld -- I'm sure even he knows he's not the franchise left fielder of the future, and he's done all that could be expected of him). Seriously, what are the Rays waiting for?

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  10. Sam says:

    I was thinking about this last night. It's obviously pretty far off, but this is my dream scenario. What about trading for Hunter Pence? We would build our package around Desmond Jennings and a solid pitching prospect. Pence is more than just a rental- he would be arb eligible so we would have him for next year.

    Obviously there is a lot that could go wrong. He probably isn't even available and his cost for next year (in terms of dollars) would be expensive for the Rays. It's also unlike the Rays to give up young, promising players. Would the Astros even want a package centered around Dez?

    This is just something I would like to see get done. Pence is a solid, middle of the order bat, that can both help the Rays this year and next.

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    • LoLJFH says:

      Houston will hold onto Pence for as long as possible, but they need pitching. DJ and Torres or Cobb might do it but not sure if he can adjust to LF. His contract is not friendly to our bottom line and with our attendance woes (just a reality, not trying to start anything about The Pit). The 'Stros want to get out from under Carlos Lee's contract as Big Fatty in LF is killing them.

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  11. Daredevil says:

    The goal in any season should be to make the playoffs. If we trade DJ, it's got to be for a game-changer like Reyes, who would vastly improve our chances to make the playoffs this year. You could have the Mets eat a little of what's left on Reyes contract this year. Upton is not our long-term centerfielder due to what he would command salary wise. So if they trade DJ, Guyer would be our long-term answer in CF. And it looks like Guyer could do very well in that capacity. In 75 games in Durham so far, he has 15 assists (throwing out runners) in the OF!!! That is incredible. He has played all 3 OF positions so this year. And he also has good speed, power, hits for average. When he homered in his first at bat with the Rays, it shows he can rise to the occasion. DJ is having a very good year, and I would hate to lose him. But maybe they would trade him and BJ to address SS, catcher, and relief help, to help us win this year.

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    • Matt says:

      That's the thing though. The Rays would never trade their top prospect for a two month rental, who they wouldn't be able to re-sign at the end of the year. And plus, Reyes wouldn't fix all the Rays problems. Sure, he would help win a few games but they have more issues than just shortstop.

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      • Dareevil says:

        Actually, as the article hinted at, the best Rays' position player prospect is now probably Guyer, not DJ. I do agree though, DJ for a 2 month rental is a tough call. I would lean towards doing it. We have a legitimate shot at a playoff. Let's go for it. Plus, Guyer would be a good long term CF (likely at least).

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  12. Jordi says:

    I remember the Mets had a few can't miss guys like Jennings - guys by the name of Jay Payton and Alex Escobar. Payton had a decent career as a 4th outfielder but Escobar, who was rated Baseball America's top prospect 3 years in a row, never amounted to much.

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  13. Jordi says:

    Oh, and Cork, is Brandon Guyer not supposed to be fast because he is white? Last I looked, Sam Fuld was white and so was Jacoby Ellsbury.

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