Tampa Bay needs more offense to compete in the AL East
Considering they have the best staff ERA in the American League (and second in the majors) at 3.29 and the top starters’ ERA in the AL (and second in the majors) at 3.49, pitching is obviously not a problem for the Tampa Bay Rays.
Even though they routed the Red Sox, 13-3 on Wednesday and rallied for six runs in the bottom of the ninth to defeat Boston, 7-4 on Thursday, the Rays are 27th out of 30 teams in the majors with a .238 average. Moving forward, Tampa Bay needs more offense to compete in the rough American League East, and a deep and talented AL as a whole.
This off-season, chances are high that the Rays will dip into their stash of starting pitchers and make a trade for a run-producing bat. Veteran right-hander James Shields has a $9 million club option and a $1.5 million buyout. Likely, Tampa Bay will choose the buyout, especially with young arms like Chris Archer and Alex Cobb showing promise.
ESPN’s Buster Olney speculates that the Rays could shop ace left-hander David Price this off-season because his trade value will be at an all-time high. A leading candidate for the American League Cy Young Award, the 27-year-old Price is 18-5 with a 2.58 ERA in 29 starts – on a team with a lineup that is not generous with scoring runs.
As Olney wrote, Price will get a significant raise over his $4.35 million salary this season. Olney believes it is a matter of when and not if the Rays deal Price before he is eligible to reach free agency after the 2015 season.
Price would undoubtedly fetch the highest return among all Rays starting pitchers. The rotation also includes Shields, young left-hander Matt Moore, 2011 AL Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson, Cobb, Jeff Neimann and Archer.
Olney pointed out that the Rays would be interested in young players who are under long-term team control not near free agency. Rangers phenom Jurickson Profar and Royals top outfield prospect Wil Myers are potential trade targets.