Mar 31, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays right fielderMatt Joyce
(20) hits a 2-RBI double during the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
It’s safe to say that nobody saw this kind of season unfolding for the Tampa Bay Rays.
They are the worst team in the major leagues with a 24-42 record and look completely hopeless. They have lost 14 of their last 15 games and have failed to score in 28 innings.
When teams begin the season like the Rays have in 2014 the thought of a fire sell always comes across the mind. It’s gotten to the point that it’s now expected when a team is miserably failing and it’s something we’ve seen all too often in recent years.
However, the Rays should avoid this, to some extent.
As the Rays struggles continue a few names have popped up that Tampa could look to move before the trade deadline. Ben Zobrist, Yunel Escobar and Matt Joyce are names I’ve seen make the rumour mill. On top of that, there is of course David Price.
Yet, Price should be the only player the Rays should consider moving.
The 28-year-old becomes a free agent after the 2015 season and the chances of the Rays re-signing their number one starter are essentially non-existent.
With the Rays struggles, and a playoff berth looking unlikely, now may be the best time to move Price. The Rays can get a nice haul for the southpaw and moving him during the season may be more enticing to a bidding team since they’ll get a year and a half out of Price, rather than just one year if the Rays trade him in the offseason.
But as for the other names, the Rays should avoid moving them at all costs.
Yes, the Rays have been a major disappointment, but this team is built to win. If you move Zobrist and Escobar, you set the team back. Neither player can be replaced when you consider what they offer the ball club and how they fit into Joe Maddon‘s line-up. While Joyce could be easier to replace at his position that the other two, he still holds value for the Rays with his fielding ability in left field and with his success against right-handed pitching.
Furthermore, neither player will be breaking the bank in the coming years. Zobrist has a $7.5 million club option in 2015 (will be picked up if he isn’t traded) while Escobar is owed $12 million over the next two seasons. Joyce will go to arbitration to determine his 2015 salary but is making just $3.7 million this season.
The Rays have a large number of pieces already in place to be a contender for many more years. Evan Longoria, Matt Moore, James Loney, Jake McGee, the list goes on and on. Keeping Zobrist and Escobar maintains that. Keeping Price would be great but realistically it doesn’t appear feasible so now may be the best time to consider moving the former Cy Young winner.
The Rays don’t need to jeopardize future seasons because of one bad year. Just because 2014 doesn’t appear as though it is going to pan out doesn’t mean the Rays should sell out and move valuable parts of their roster.