MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay RaysThe Rays jumped into the off-season early by completing a 6-player trade with the Seattle Mariners while the Kansas City Royals were still hungover from their World Series celebration.

The key player the Rays gave up was starting pitcher Nate Karns.

Trading a pitcher like Karns is almost unheard of. Karns posted a 3.67 ERA in 26 starts, will make close to minimum salary for the next two years, and has five years (5!) left before he hits free agency.

Sure, Karns is no ace-in-waiting, but he looks like he will be a dependable 3rd- or 4th-starter in the big leagues for years to come. And he is cheap. Teams covet pitchers like Karns. And yet, the Rays nonchalantly traded him away for some upgrades in other areas.

More amazingly, the starting pitching for the Rays is so expendable, that teams feel the Rays could trade another young arm, according to Rays’ consigliere Ken Rosenthal.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times says the Rays will listen on any player (the Rays don’t believe in “untouchable” players) but speculates that Drew Smyly and Matt Moore could be the most likely to be dealt.

Drew Smyly, with an arbitration number of around $4 million and shoulder issues, would seem the most likely candidate. Or maybe Matt Moore, who will make $5 million this season in his last guaranteed year before three team options kick in.

Of course, a quick look at what the Rays still have, even after trading Karns, and it makes sense (2015 salary in parentheses):

  • Chris Archer, 3.23 ERA, 2.90 FIP, 212.0 ip, 10.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 ($2.8 million)
  • Alex Cobb, 2.87 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 166.1 ip, 8.1 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 in 2014 (~$4.0 million)
  • Jake Odorizzi, 3.35 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 169.1 ip, 8.0 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 (~$550,000)
  • Matt Moore, 5.43 ERA, 4.82 FIP, 63.0 ip, 6.6 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 ($5.0 million)
  • Drew Smyly, 3.11 ERA, 3.91 FIP, 66.2 ip, 10.4 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 (~$4.0 million)
  • Erasmo Ramirez, 3.75 ERA, 3.76 FIP, 163.1 ip, 6.9 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 (~$2.5 million)
  • Alex Colome, 3.94 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 109.2 ip, 7.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 (~$525,000)
  • Blake Snell, 1.83 ERA, 2.12 FIP, 44.1 ip, 11.6 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 in triple-A (~$500,000 if in the big leagues)

That’s an embarrassment of riches. Of course, the flip-side of that is that we have seen how quickly the depth can be eroded with a few key injuries. But with 7-8 legit big league starting pitchers (depending on when the Rays feel Snell is ready), the Rays still have plenty of depth to work with.

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5 Comments

  1. Matt says:

    I understand why they can trade another starter, but don't get the timing behind it. Free agency has barely began, and theres plenty of starters teams can go out and sign. Why not wait until January to find the losers of the free agent market and force their hand? If they can't find a good enough package at that time, just wait until teams start losing pitchers to injury in spring training or april/may. Then, it lessens the time to wait for guys like Cobb and Snell, and might force teams to pay more since they'll be desperate.

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    • Skateman says:

      On the other hand, if you strike early you can target the players you actually want rather than whatever happens to be left over. I love the trade for Brad Miller. The Rays saw an opportunity and struck before other teams even knew what hit them.

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  2. edward says:

    The question I have is for what? More minor leaguers or reclamation projects. I really don't have a problem with them trading another arm, but I am trying to figure out what they have done with the trades they have made for big leaguers. This last trade does have questions, but of course all trades do. If they go out and at least make it look like they are trying to win now, by getting a big bat maybe, ok maybe a medium bat lol, that will make the fan base say hmmmmm, maybe, instead of saying "oh no salary dump again". Than maybe just maybe they will start to bring some more fans to the games. Not saying sell outs, but maybe closer to the 20,000 range. Ok maybe I am a dreamer, but one can always hope. GO RAYS.

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  3. monte says:

    Colome should be in the pen. Smyly's condition remains uncertain. Cobb is not ready to return and might not have a successful return. Moore looked like he was finally getting it again in his last couple of starts but still remains uncertain after his surgery. Snell may not be ready for the majors.

    There seems to be too many questions about the rich talent of starters for us to be confident enough to turn some of them over to another team(s).

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  4. Dave L says:

    I recall the last 2 Novembers having 'too many starting pitchers'....

    How'd that work out?

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