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…
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.
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?
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.
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.