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Jake's Take: I'm a GM in the Making.....

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[editor's note, by Jacob Larsen]Disclaimer: To all Angels, Mets, Braves, Padres and PIRATES fans... This post was made in good fun and was using rumors found on newspaper sites, ESPN and other sources that have been noticed by Rays fans. DO NOT TAKE THESE TRADES SERIOUSLY, UNLESS THEY ACTUALLY HAPPEN...

So far, this offseason, it doesn't look too hard to be a GM in the MLB right now. Lots of insane signings and trades have got me in the "GM-ing" Mood. Using the Rays known "Trading chips", well-known Rays rumors and our expected "35-40 MIL payroll" as a blueprint, I feel that I could make a very competitive Rays team with a few moves.

Trades

1. 1B/3B/RF Aubrey Huff to Anaheim for 1B Casey Kotchman and prospect C Mike Napoli or C Jeff Mathis.

What this trade would do for us: It'd give us a useable 1B with plate discipline and experience with Joe Maddon. We wouldn't need to rush 1B Wes Bankston through AAA and we could use him as our DH in the future. Acquiring Mathis or Napoli would give us a ML-Ready Catching prospect which could ease our worries about trading current Rays Catcher, Toby Hall. Also, with acquiring "zero-to-three" players(players who have spent 0 to 3 seasons in the majors, who make the MLB salary minimum), we could clear 7 MIL from our books which could go towards the Free Agent Market.

Holes Filled: 1B and Catching

2. SS Julio Lugo and Cl Danys Baez to Atlanta for 3B Andy Marte and P Jake Stevens(or just about any ATL pitching prospect).

What this trade would do for us: This trade would be a dousy for us, we'd finally have a legit 3B(prospect or not). Atlanta has an impending loss of Furcal and Chipper Jones blocking Marte working against them. So trading Marte for Lugo would be very beneficial to them(by solving both those problems). Baez would be needed to make the trading of Marte look better to Atlanta writers and fan's eyes and a fringe pitching prospect would shut us up as well. They'll be losing Farnsworth to the Yankees and their "closer of the future" Joey Devine isn't ready and Kolb fell off the face of the earth, so Baez would help them there as well. For TB, trading Lugo would give Upton the SS job outright. Orvella, JoeBo or a Free Agent signing could easily solve the loss of Baez. Again, 2 more zero-to-threes would drop our payroll by another 8-9 MIL(4+ MIL for Baez, 4+ MIL for Lugo) from our books.

Holes Filled: 3B and bullpen/future rotation

3. CF Joey Gathright and SP Dewon Brazelton to San Diego for SP Adam Eaton.

What this trade would do for us: Gasp! A starting pitcher with MLB experience in a pitcher's park and who can eat innings!!! What's not to love?? San Diego is likely to acquiring SP David Wells again for probably CF Dave Roberts or newly acquired Mike Cameron, so they're probably one of the 12 teams already looking at Gathright. With the addition of Wells, Eaton becomes somewhat expendable to the Padres. Also Mike Cameron probably is in the declining years of his career and due to his injury last year and the immense OF of San Diego, he's more likely to be playing LF or RF for them if he stays. Kevin Towers has been duped already this offseason and he's likely to be duped again. Need sometimes overvalues players and causes GMs to make trades which are questionable. Gathright's speed, ability to cover alot of ground in the OF and knack for getting on-base in the minors probably could give Towers enough reason to try and trade for Joey. Throw in SP Dewon Brazelton to keep him away from the Rays forever, change of scenery would make both parties better. This trade may cost us a little bit of money, but if we've already made the trades above...it's not even a big piece of our available cash.

Holes Filled: Veteran, Innings-eating Starting Pitcher

4. C Toby Hall to New York Mets for SP Jae Seo and PTBNL

What this trade would do for us: A Quality Rotation arm, who could slide to the bullpen if we needed him to. Mets won't give up Heilman, that's fine, give us Seo and a PTBNL instead. Mets are looking for a good defensive catcher and Toby is one of the best. He's also cheaper, compared to FA C's Ramon Hernandez or Bengie Molina. They don't really need a offensive catcher, they sure haven't had one lately anyways. A fair trade for both teams. Another zero-to-three, another 4 MIL dropped from our books. Hey, the PTBNL could even be Phillip Humber....why not?

Holes filled: "Swingman" pitcher and a prospect that could be useful in the future.

Now, we've got alot of our major holes filled and we've dropped our payroll to around 15 to 20 MIL dollars spent on players. That means that we have 15 to 20 MIL to spend towards, gaspo(spanish for "gasp!), Free Agents. Rays fans may have thought we wouldn't have enough money to spend in Free Agency because a bidding war may commense and we wouldn't be able to afford it. 15-20 MIL of leeway to go towards Free Agents is enough to attract a few "mid-level" Free Agents here.

Free Agent Market
Now, I'm leaving the negotiating to the professionals... I'll just list Free Agents that we could look at with our 15-20 MIL of expendable payroll.

Starting Pitchers
SP Jeff Weaver
SP Jason Johnson
SP Jarrod Washburn
SP Paul Byrd
SP Joe Mays
SP Shawn Estes
SP Brian Moehler
SP Brett Tomko
SP Tony Armas Jr.
SP Darren Dreifort
SP Matt Morris
SP Kevin Milwood

Relief Pitchers
RP Octavio Dotel
RP Doug Brocail
RP Matt Mantei
RP Jason Grimesly
RP B.H. Kim
RP Danny Graves
RP Braden Looper
RP Paul Quantrill
RP Rick White
RP Brian Meadows
RP Russ Springer
RP Chris Hammond
RP Julian Tavarez
RP Al Reyes
RP Joey Eischen

Third-Baseman
3B Wes Helms
3B Bill Mueller
3B Joe Randa
3B Jose Valentin
3B Joe McEwing
3B Nomar Garciaparra

Final Note: Now tell me, with 15-20 MIL to use...we can't field a competitive team and contending team(Yup, I said it) with these trades and signing a few "mid-level" Free Agents?