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The Tampa Bay Rays 2010 MLB Trade Deadline Handbook

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[Note by Tommy Rancel, 06/21/10 8:00 AM EDT ] This is the first article in a series of posts prepared by Steve Slowinski, who is currently away on leave.


The DRB Handbook for the 2010 Trade Deadline

I dislike the word "Guide." Or more to the point, I dislike how often it's used: draft guide, fantasy guide, season guide, World Cup guide, TV guide, travel guide, writing guide, hitchhikers' guide. Guide guide guide guide guide.* And so, DRaysBay isn't going to have a trade deadline guide; we're going to have a handbook. Original, I know.

*It's also one of those words that looks really odd the longer you stare at it.

Now that the end of June is starting us in the face, the trade deadline is fast approaching and rumors are going to begin flying every which way. The Yankees are interested in Cliff Lee? No, they're not. Yes, they are. Boston's in on the action? No, yes, no, maybe, yes. It can be tough keeping up with the rumors, let alone deciphering which rumors have actual substance to them.

Enter stage right, the DRB Handbook. Over the next couple of days, we'll be bringing you a handful of articles that address what the Rays need, their potential trade chips, who they should be looking at, and who they shouldn't be looking at. The more you know going into the trading season, the better you'll be able to determine if rumors you're hearing are legit or inane babble written by journalists needing a story. And since the Rays normally play their cards close to the chest, it may be that you won't hear many rumors floating around about the Rays. Does this mean they aren't being active, calling teams and trying to put deals together? Not at all - it just means that our front office values information and privacy. Trust that they're working hard to get the right players; they just don't want us knowing everything they're doing.

And so, since we will probably have little idea who the Rays are pursuing until they've acquired them, what sort of players should the Rays been looking at? Where are the current holes and needs in the current team? In no particular order:

-         DH Bat - This has been covered ad nauseam on the site, but the Rays have gotten pitiful production from their DH position this season. Pat Burrell was awful and Hank Blalock hasn't done much better, while Willy Aybar and John Jaso haven't produced spectacularly while filling in on occasion. The Rays do have one of the best offenses in the majors - currently tied for fifth with the Tigers - but they still pale in comparison with the Yankees and Red Sox (.810 team OPS versus .760 OPS). The Rays could use someone that is cheap and underrated, but they could also make a run at some of the big guns available. Ideally, they wouldn't trade for an outfielder or middle infielder, as they currently have lots of depth at those positions, and they don't need someone signed to a long-term deal. In other words, they want short-term offensive help that won't cost an arm and a leg and won't block the way for the Rays' young players.

-         Ace Starter - Ignore those middle-of-the-rotation crap pitchers on the market. Rays have starting pitching depth out the wazoo, and the only thing they lack is a knock-down ace. James Shields is an excellent pitcher and is underrated by the media, but the Rays are lacking a 6 WAR pitcher at the front of the rotation. Since the Rays' pitchers have been struggling recently, if the Rays want to upgrade their rotation, they have two main options: replace Wade Davis with Jeremy Hellickson, or trade for an ace starter to replace Davis in the rotation. (Really, it's nothing personal about Davis - he's been a serviceable fifth starter and has lots of upside - but his is the easiest spot to upgrade.) Considering the overall strength of the Rays' rotation, this isn't a drastic need, but at the right price it'd be a way to improve the rotation dramatically. This ace starter shouldn't already be signed to a long-term deal, as it would cost a lot of money and would block the Rays' minor league pitching depth.

-         Relief Depth - You can never have too much bullpen depth. The Rays' relievers have been very good so far this season, but if someone gets injured or begins to stink, who's the next to step in? Winston Abreu? Dale Thayer? The Rays could look to add another arm to the pen, especially if they can find an effective lefty reliever that's good against both hands. Again, this reliever shouldn't be too expensive, but the Rays have bullpen slots opening after this season and so a player signed to a long-term deal would not be a problem.

And so, that's where the Rays currently stand. Next up, we'll take a look at players on the trading block that the Rays should pass on.