For each division, we will be doing an in-depth look at each team’s situations for the off-season and offer some insights to what would make sense.
We now move to the AL East, which is very top heavy and looks to be a boring off-season free agency-wise for most of the teams. The Orioles are the epitome of a dumpster fire, the Rays don’t/can’t spend money, the Blue Jays trade for two infielders every year and they don’t pan out, and the Red Sox and Yankees get into a dick-measuring contest.
Tampa Bay Rays
Top FA Targets:
- Josh Donaldson, 3B
Going out on a limb, but the Rays need a 3B and technically have some money to spend. If Donaldson’s market doesn’t materialize like he thought, a one year deal in TB would make sense for both parties.
- Marwin Gonzalez, UTIL
Tampa needs a 3B and some help backing up almost every INF position and even someone to play LF occasionally… they can do it all with Marwin.
- Brad Brach, RP
The Rays are hard to project for pen arms because they don’t spend money on them and use them as an “opener” now. Brach could fit both those needs in theory.
- A.J. Ramos, RP
The Rays also don’t use closers as conventionally as other teams… but Ramos has experience closing… or could be the opener like Sergio Romo was in 2018.
- Jake Diekman, RP
The Rays need a lefty and likely won’t be in the market for a Zach Britton or Andrew Miller. Diekman has been solid for a few years now and could be a great option for the Rays.
Top 3 Trade Possibilities:
- Rays trade 1B CJ Cron and a Low A prospect to the Yankees for SP Sonny Gray
The Rays could sell high on CJ Cron and the two years of team control remaining and ship him to NYY for change-of-scenery candidate Sonny Gray. Cron had a great 2018 for Tampa, but they can replace him internally with Jake Bauers. With Cron set to make $5M in 2019, he would seemingly be a non-tender candidate the following year anyway. For the Yankees, Cron would form a solid platoon with Greg Bird at 1B and probably mash 30 homers in fewer games.
- Rays trade SP Brent Honeywell, OF Jesus Sanchez, and SS Lucius Fox to the Indians for SP Carlos Carrasco
If the Rays are serious about competing, they could use another legitimate starting pitcher for the playoffs. The Indians are trying to shave some money while not completely rebuilding and Sanchez and Honeywell could both appear in the majors in 2019.
- Rays trade LHP/1B Brendan McKay & SP Matthew Liberatore to the Mariners for RP Edwin Diaz
The Mariners are looking to rebuild and a rebuilding team has no use for a closer. They would be wise to snag two top 100 MLB Prospects for him while his value is high.
- Rays trade 1B/OF Jake Bauers and SS Wander Franco to the Diamondbacks for 1B Paul Goldschmidt
Somewhat straightforward here… the Diamondbacks are going to lose Goldy after the 2019 season to free agency and they can’t really compete in the NL West in 2019. Get the most value for him now by snagging a replacement in Bauers and a top 20 MLB prospect in Franco, albeit a few years away from contributing.