Rays Trade Shows They’re All-In

The Tampa Bay Rays trade history has always been one about getting the best value for top talent. Whether it be trading an ace pitcher like Tyler Glasnow or the face of the team like Evan Longoria, the Rays have always sold as high as possible for potential success down the road. You have to look no further than the Delmon Young trade tree. An off-season 2007 trade of a former number-one pick is still paying off for the Rays in the form of Isaac Paredes, Shane Baz, Ryan Pepiot, and Johnny Deluca.

Keeping this in mind, the recent trade of starting pitcher Aaron Civale to the Milwaukee Brewers for shortstop prospect Gregory Barrios seems out of the norm. A starting MLB pitcher for a High-A prospect feels like something altogether different than the usual Rays trade practices.

The recent Rays trade shows that they are set on winning this season.

The Season So Far

I and many pundits have waxed poetically about the Rays of the past and their successes. The days of fighting for the top spot in the AL East seem so far away. Where are the winning streaks of the past where the team looked invincible? Where is the swagger and confidence that radiated off players like Jose Siri and Randy Arozarena?

The answer is on the injured list.

The Rays started off the season with arms like Baz and Jeffrey Springs making their way back from Tommy John surgery. Tak Bradley suffered a pectoral strain during spring training and was sidelined for six weeks. Brandon Lowe and Josh Lowe dealt with early-season injuries and have been in and out of the lineup.

The Rays were left to essentially tread water with replacement players who put up a valiant effort but failed to live up to the standard. A quick look at the run differential shows just how far off the pace those efforts were, with the Rays having been outscored by opponents by 56 runs through 89 games.

Add in poor offensive performances from Siri and Arozarena at the start of the season, the fact that the Rays are still even in the Wild Card mix is impressive.

Buyers or Sellers?

With the July 30 trade deadline fast approaching, the Rays will have to make decisions on what future certain players have with the team. As mentioned before, players with high perceived value towards the end of their contracts have historically been prime targets to be moved by the organization.

Looking at the current contracts on the books, players like Arozarena, Paredes, and Yandy Diaz would seem like favorites to find themselves wearing a different uniform come August. And while there have been some rumblings of potential moves, the disgruntled apathy from the fanbase has remained at a low simmer. The usual clamoring to reload the farm system has been missing so far, even in the face of a down year. 

But why?

The Future

The answer comes from the same source as so many early-season troubles: the injured list. After trading away Civale, the Rays called up Baz from AAA Durham Bulls and he made his first start of the MLB season on July 6th. Baz went six innings, giving up three runs on seven hits in the loss. He also recorded six strikeouts with only one walk, showing that he has the potential to be a dominant pitcher.

There’s also the potential upcoming return of Springs, who will provide another fresh arm late in the season. Springs is expected to join the team in either late July or early August.

Beyond just the end of this season, there is an eye on what the future will hold. The offensive struggles from Siri and Arozarena have fallen by the wayside in large part and Josh and Brandon Lowe seem to be past their injury bugs and are contributing at their expected levels.

With top prospect Junior Caminero knocking on the MLB door and the return of ace Shane McClanahan likely for the 2025 season, the team may depart from the old ways and stand pat even in the face of missing the 2024 playoffs for potential success later.

While it would have been easy to ride out the rest of the season and retool, the Rays’ trade of Civale shows that they are willing to swing for the fences this year and are all in to win now.

Main Image: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

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