trade deadline

Tampa Bay Rays: 3 Players to Target Before the Trade Deadline

As of the morning of May 31, the Tampa Bay Rays sit tied for third in the AL East with a 28-29 record through 57 games and 10.5 games behind the first-place New York Yankees. It has been an incredibly disappointing season so far for a team that last year began their season with 13 straight wins right out of the gate, made it to the World Series just four years ago, and has made the postseason for six consecutive seasons beginning in 2018. The July 30 trade deadline is still two months away, but it’s time to start thinking about how the Rays should improve their roster if they want to have a shot at turning the season around and making the playoffs for a seventh straight campaign.

Here are some players that could be making their way to Tampa Bay ahead of the July 30 deadline.

Tampa Bay Rays: 3 Players to Target Before the Trade Deadline


Jesús Luzardo

May 17, 2024; Miami, Florida, USA; Miami Marlins starting pitcher Jesus Luzardo (44) delivers a pitch against the New York Mets during the first inning at loanDepot Park. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays are infamous for their creativity when it comes to their pitching. Truth be told, their rotation needs some serious work given the absences of Shane McClanahan, Zach Eflin, and Jeffrey Springs due to injury. They need a dependable starter who can go 6+ innings a game and minimize the use of the bullpen, which is where Jesus Luzardo comes into the equation.

Now, Luzardo has struggled so far through the season, recording a 4.18 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP over 51.2 innings pitched. The Miami Marlins are one of the worst teams in baseball, and it seems like they have given up any hope for the postseason after dealing Luis Arraez to the Padres earlier in the season. He’s struggling, but a trade to a better team might lift his performance a bit and go back to being the top young talent he was back in Oakland. It’s a high-risk, high-reward situation for the Rays, but given his high talent and relatively young age (he’s 26 years old), it’s worth the risk.

Bo Bichette

May 28, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Toronto Blue Jays infielder Bo Bichette (11) bats against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays have one of the most talented rosters in the league, but every year they seem to fall out toward the end of the season and never amount to much. This year, the fallout happened earlier than expected; they never performed like they were expected to. They sit in last place in their division and don’t seem like they are hoping for a playoff push. Plus, most of their top players have expiring contracts this season, including Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Chris Bassitt, George Springer, Kevin Gausman, and Bo Bichette himself, and they will likely look to trade them away and get something out of them before their contract expires and they’re free to leave without giving the team anything in return.

From the Rays’ point of view, this trade makes sense. Third baseman Isaac Paredes has been struggling lately, and they could look to replace him if he doesn’t improve later in the season. The Rays have a very talented shortstop in José Caballero and could move him to third in order to make the move for Bichette work. He’d be an expensive acquisition for the Rays, but could be worth it given his talent and the fact that, like Luzardo, he’s only 26 years old and has a good amount of baseball left in his tank.

Taylor Ward

May 20, 2024; Houston, Texas, USA; Los Angeles Angels left fielder Taylor Ward (3) hits a RBI sacrifice fly against the Houston Astros during the first inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Randy Arozarena‘s struggles are one of the main reasons for the Rays’ disappointing performance this season. A player who once hit 23 home runs in a season and could be relied on to be the Rays’ best power hitter has been a dud this season, hitting way below the Mendoza line at .159 with just 31 hits over 195 at-bats. The Rays could look to either trade him away or trade for a talented outfielder to put pressure on him to perform, and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Taylor Ward seems like the perfect man for the job.

The struggling Angels will be sellers at the deadline, and Ward is their best outfielder right now. His contract isn’t that big, and he’ll likely be the first player traded away from the Angels ahead of the trade deadline. If the Rays do decide to trade Arozarena away, he’ll immediately fill in his spot and serve as a great replacement for him. If they don’t, he’ll put enormous pressure on Arozarena to perform, which will likely improve the overall team’s performance. Either way, the Rays should make a move for him, and he probably won’t be too expensive to get.

Main Image: Jonathan Hui-USA TODAY Sports

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