Hoping There is One More Trade on the Back Burner

The Tampa Bay Rays have sent out the vibe that they are basically done “shopping” and will just add a few stray parts to their Spring Invite list thus possibly closing the door to any movements before the team’s current player report to Port Charlotte, Florida in mid-February. I’m not buying this for nano second.

Maybe it is a gut feeling or possibly a bit too much Chipotle Tabasco sauce, but this team is never done trading up or passing up a deal that could eliminate payroll or provide a bit more stability to security within their roster. And with the Rays having to add a $1.25 million dollar cherry on top of their recent Carlos Pena sundae, this team will be more than n eager to take a call from a certain GM in the Nation’s Capitol, possibly bringing a two-fold relief effort.

Of course I’m talking about Mike Rizzo, the General Manager of the Washington Nationals who has been poking and prodding B J Upton like a prized Angus beef cow for the last few years. Now that the Rays are possibly nearing the bursting point in their budget bubble, the right deal with the Nats for the right player (s) could happen quickly and also relieve some of that payroll pressure instantly giving the team actually a bit of payola if they want to bring in a right-handed bench bat with some of the pressure relieving cash.

Of course I’m talking about the Rays possibly finally sending B J Upton to the Nationals which would relieve $ 7.6 million off the Rays payroll in one swift move, adding the Nats would be bold enough to send SS Danny Espinosa to the Rays as the “other part of the bargain”. Believe me, Espinosa can hit and field and is making the MLB minimum and has not even breached the arbitration process.

With one firm “Yuuuup”, the Rays could plug their question mark at shortstop, bring some cash back into the fold to entice a right-handed bat and still tuck enough away for a possible late July movement if the Rays need additional firepower. It would also eliminate the ticking clock above Upton’s head immediately, give him a clean break to go basically “back home”, closer to his Northern Virgina roots and play in front of friends and family on a more opportunistic basis. Last but not least, it will make the Rays CF transition happen in a timely manner, giving heir apparent Desmond Jennings possibly the reigns to the spot.

It could facilitate a move by Matt Joyce to Leftfield or keep the status quo in Rightfield with Ben Zobrist and Joyce flip-flopping depending on the opposing pitching match ups like in 2011. The movement of Upton to another greener pasture could also give a golden opportunity to both Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer to grab a hold of a Outfield flux and prove their worth to Maddon and his staff this Spring, possibly getting them to more time on the field. On the surface it looks like a win-win for everyone.

Even more interesting is the fact if the Rays did trade for Espinosa, it would bring into effect another “6 degrees of Longo connection” onto the Rays roster. You see, Espinosa like current Rays RP pitcher Cesar Ramos is also a ex-alum of Long Beach State University. Add that to the fact Espinosa can stroke the ball for power ( 21 HR, .735 OPS) and has speed (17 SB, 33 doubles), he could be a nice asset to offset the current short stop power deficiency.

Add plus to it all is that Espinosa will not reach the salary arbitration process until 2014, possibly being the stopgap defender up the middle the Rays could bank on until Huk-Ju Lee gets his feet wet at the MLB level. Espinosa also would have great trade value at the Trade Deadline this season if Reid Brignac rebounds and get off to a torrid start, or finally takes ownership of the Rays SS position.

It all looks enticing, but as we all know, the Rays do not ask my opinion on salary or team concept only if I want a large or medium Dr. Pepper at the concession stand. Still, I like this deal more for the possible immediate values and trade kickbacks this could have towards the Rays putting a team on the field that could suffice those nasty 2011 offensive sand traps.

I know this whole enchilada trade concept is more fantasy than reality, but the Rays have done thing before on the spur of the moment and they have paid some gritty dividends. I know possibly sending a veteran player and a guy who can be an offensive spark plug and defensive bright spot is a gamble, but it is one I would love to see more for the fact I would love to get a quality player in-house before the end of 2012 and possibly see Upton take a long walk and the Rays standing there empty-handed.

If this whole thing is just a dream sequence, please do not wake me until February 18th, I want to believe in its fruition for just a little bit longer.

6 Comments

I rather the Rays trade a starting pitcher than B.J. Upton. The Rays can use all the offense they can get.
The Rays Rant- http://yossif.mlblogs.com/

Yossif,
I really do not want the trade to happen, but if it makes this team viable with both options and a great young player in return…….Well, baseball as we all know is a business. I know the SS position is a sore thumb sticking out prior to Spring Training. I would rather see the team confident and enthusiastic about Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez competing for the slot instead of a possible $ 2-3 million signing of someone like Jeff Keppinger but that is the Rays front office’s decision. Huge Espinosa fan, so I would pull for a move that direction since Ian Desmond is situated firmly in the Nats 6-spot in their defense.

Might as well get Upton for someone, he won’t resign with us next year when the Nats over offer. Espinosa would make our infield the only infield in the league that can average 20+ home runs per player (Not including Catcher) Espinosa is a better offensive player then Upton and a natural SS. We can easily replace Upton,And actually possibly trade Davis/Nieman for LF Jose Tabata (Pitt) and Move Jennings to CF. This would add more speed to the outfield plus obtaining a huge SS and with S-Rod and Keppinger on the bench, a much more Depth infield.

RBL,
Do not get me wrong, I like Upton. I have known him since he came up at 17, but the whole in the 6-slot is growing bigger, not smaller and Tim Beckham or HakJu Lee are at least a season or two from takinb the spot (maybe). I agree the offensive firepower from that spot has slipped since Bartlett was sent to San Diego and Esinosa is a guy the Rays could control fiscally until 2014. But the madness has played out before and we found we worried about nothing. Hopefully that same comes to fruition in 2012 again.

But with all of these one year contracts we have now, I believe the Rays want to win it all this year and a solid player at each position with depth is what we need, We can’t wait for Beckham and HakJu to get up here, Majority of our current players would be gone.

RBL,
I think the 1-year deal is going to be a Tampa Bay staple move for vets from now un til……. In some ways the Pat Burrell debacle showed Andrew Friedman that even a guy who on paper should hit in the Trop, he might end up on his face. But that same thing has happened before in the Trop. Remember Vinny Castilla, Jose Cruz Jr, Ben Grieve. All hit well as visitors to the Trop, but as Rays……
Tampa Bay is gambling this season with a raise of almost 60+ % on their payroll. I think it is a show by Stu he will spedn the $$….Now we just have to put ourselves in the seats.

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