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Roundtable: Predicting the Rays moves this Winter

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Article or Rays Stank idea

Can we do a prediction of the writers and the visitors of the site on who they think the Rays will sign/trade for 1B, C, and closer (if FA, also include size of contract), along with final David Price trade predictions? Would be fun to see who gets the closest to getting in the mind of AF.

by raysfaninminnesota on Nov 18, 2013 | 10:48 AM

Ask and you shall receive!

For our first Roundtable of the off-season, I asked the writing staff to make predictions on First Base, Catcher, a high leverage bullpen arm, and where David Price might land this winter.

Note: I did not ask thoughts on Designated Hitter, as Joe Maddon has already confirmed one of the four outfielders should be filling that void through a rotating DH. This does not preclude the Rays from adding a bat to face left handed pitching and taking the DH slot along the way, but a bench player seemed out of scope. The Roundtable answers were also compiled prior to the news last night that the Rays and Jose Molina are working on a two-year deal.

At the end, you can vote for who you think has the right idea.

Let's go!

Ian Malinowski

First Base: Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay. Both good defenders, and they'll make a fine platoon. Nothing wrong with copying the Yanks.

Catcher: Kurt Suzuki on a one year deal, to partner with Lobaton. He's an able defender, and while his bat has been pretty wretched for the past couple years, he's been the victim of pretty bad BABIPs. I know, I know. If a guy posts a below average BABIP for five years running, you might start to think that's his true talent. You might also toss him a low-risk deal, though, and see if your hitting coach can turn it around.

High Leverage Bullpen Arm: Jake McGee will be the closer, and he'll succeed in that role.

I think that Wesley Wright will surprise people when he learns to use his changeup a bit better, and Brandon Gomes will have the lockdown year he's been threatening to have for a little while now, as long as he can stay healthy.

With Joel Peralta still playable and Alex Torres well-adapted to his new bullpen role, there's no reason too pay for dependable quality. The Rays will bring on a few guys with upside, and some of them will turn out.

My money's on Octavio Dotel. He'll be 40, but he was perhaps the best righty-on-righty reliever in the his generation, and the Rays have already shown themselves willing to use a ROOGY.

David Price: The Rays will not trade David Price.

Okay, they might, but only for the right package, and there's no reason to think that they'll force it, or that the "have to trade him."

Michael Valancius

First Base: With the designated hitter fairly locked in as a rest day and platoon position, I don't think any of the internal options will get a shot at the first base job.

I think the Rays will entertain the idea of bringing Loney back, but if his demands surpass one year/$5 million in either dollars or years, they will probably pass.

Corey Hart is an intriguing option, but the Rays have never been known for taking sizable gambles. I really hate the idea of it, but it would not surprise me if the Rays sign Lyle Overbay in the dumpster diving market.

In the trade market, I don't see an obvious fit. The most interesting option I see that I haven't heard mentioned in a trade is Logan Morrison.

The Marlins insist on playing him in the outfield, where he is a horrific defender. He has a 96 and 90 wRC+ over the past two years, but in 2011 and 2012 he had a 116 and 129 wRC+ respectively. He is only 26 years old, and his plate discipline is very solid, so I think if his BABIP goes back up and he starts consistently tapping into his power, he could put up a surprising year and give the Rays an option at first base for the next few years. Steamer has him down for a 111 wRC+, so they see something in him.

Morrison only played in 85 games last year due to injuries and somewhat inconsistent playing time. He is also entering his arbitration years, giving the Marlins more reason to trade a guy that has been on poor terms with the organization. I think that the Rays will pounce on this opportunity, and that Morrison in a new environment with a better incentive to play hard will thrive.

Catcher: No change.

If the Rays determine that Jose Molina is just too old to keep playing, I think they will sign a cheap catcher who handles pitchers well (and who is a good framer) to split time with Lobaton. I am not very in tune with who is a good defensive catcher, so I won't bring up any specific names.

High Leverage Bullpen Arm: Can I say no one? I think the Rays will take some shots on guys who are middle relievers with some upside, but I don't think they will pay the dollars to get an "established" closer or set up man. Joba Chamberlain and Carlos Marmol stick out as two relievers the Rays could be interested in.

David Price: I think he is definitely going to be traded, and I will put it at a 75% chance of going to the Los Angeles Dodgers and a 20% chance of going to the Los Angeles Angels.

Kyle Hopkins

First Base: While I would love to see James Loney return, another team will probably place a value on him out of the Rays' means. Going after Corey Hart would be a more expensive gamble than normal for Andrew Friedman, although Hart would be an exciting player to see in a Rays uniform.

Justin Morneau on a one year deal worth about 5 million sounds about right to me. Morneau is the perfect bounce-back candidate the Rays love.

Catcher: I think the Rays' wealthier rivals go after Brian McCann and AJ Pierzynski, leaving Jose Lobaton as the primary catcher next season.

The Rays will try to land Ryan Hanigan or another veteran option. If none of those options work out, I could see the Rays bringing Jose Molina back in a backup role.

High Leverage Bullpen Arm: As long as the Rays are comfortable with Jesse Crain's health, he could come back as a free agent. Crain would have the opportunity to close, possibly earning himself a larger contract in the future. He could come cheaper if this is the case.

If the Rays are not comfortable with his health, they could look at Ryan Madson with an incentive laden contract worth maybe 2.5 to 3 million.

David Price: Trade him to Dodgers for Joc Pederson, one of Ross Stripling or Chris Reed, and Jose Dominguez, with possibly more.

The Dodgers are in win now mode and David Price would make them prohibitive favorites to win the National League and the World Series. The Rays would add a left handed bat in Pederson, a pitcher close to the Majors in Stripling or Reed, and a powerful bullpen arm with a plus fastball that touches 102 mph in Dominguez.

Stephanie Katz

First Base: James Loney! I really do hope that Loney returns for cheap, although I'm not very optimistic. Sounds like the Rays are interested in Corey Hart, I can only hope that he is fully recovered from both knee injuries if we do sign him.

Catcher: AJ Pierzynski. He doesn't end up on a different AL East team, he finally lands in Tampa Bay.

High Leverage Bullpen Arm: Re-sign Jesse Crain, and promote Kirby Yates. I don't think the Rays will sign an actual closer, but the competition could very well be between Peralta, McGee and Yates during Spring Training.

David Price: I think (and hope) he stays at least one more year with us.

Price is one of my favorite players on the team, and while I'd love for him to stay with the Rays forever, I know that's not realistic.

Steve Kinsella

First Base: The Rays will go hard after Corey Hart, and if they can't wait around for him they will focus attention on Justin Morneau -- and if that fails, they will turn to Mike Morse.

If they miss on all and James Loney is still without team they will turn to him. Also, wouldn't rule out a kick the tires on Kevin Youkilis.

The one thing that I will once again say is that, if at all possible, there will be no platoon at the position.

Catcher: I wouldn't be surprised if John Buck is brought in to split time with Jose Lobaton... that is, if a deal for Ryan Hanigan can not be worked out.

High Leverage Bullpen Arm: K-Rod! Rays will most certainly make an investment of a high leverage arm... there are too many out there to pass on the market.

Chris Perez may fall to them if no team is willing to add him after his poor 2nd half, Frank Francisco off injury has upside, and of course Francisco Rodriguez, who Joe Maddon has a relationship with and is consider a temperamental guy looking for a home.

David Price: The rest of the National League can't let the Dodgers build behemoth, and the Braves are the team most likely to step up and offer the Rays a great package.

The Braves, Nationals, and Cardinals all have to be willing to go the extra mile to even the scales with the Dodgers.

In summation:

1. Hart, Ryan Hanigan, K-Rod, and Braves
2. Morneau, Buck, Francisco, and Cardinals

Allie Kranick

First Base: If there's anywhere the Rays invest their dollars this off-season, with the rotating DH locked up, I think it'll be Corey Hart -- though I wouldn't be shocked at the team taking a chance/investing in Lyle Overbay, because it would be a typical Rays management move.

I'd really love to see Loney return, but I think he'll go somewhere else for more money.

Catcher: I think Loby proved his worth last year and will receive a majority of the playing time, with the Rays working out a deal to keep Jose Molina for his experience with the staff and vet status.

I remember towards the end of the season comments being made regarding his guidance and molding of the younger pitchers on the staff, and considering how strong it will remain with or without Price, I think the Rays value this more than bringing in a younger, or dare-I-say better, catcher.

High Leverage Bullpen Arm: I honestly don't think the Rays will put big money towards a high leverage arm, and will just internally transition someone into those roles.

Jake McGee seems like that candidate, though I think spring training will is when that try out will occur. With the additions of C.J. Riefenhauser and Kirby Yates to the 40-man, and the recent minor league signing of Mark Lowe, I really think this all just occurs with who's already in the system. The money will go to first base.

David Price: I've had a feeling of the Cardinals as Price's landing spot, but I think he'll remain with the team to begin 2014.

Depending on the Rays success by July, wouldn't be surprised to see him moved then if they don't look like they'll be contending in September. Injuries are bound to happen to starters on contending teams, and if he's healthy and doing well his value could be higher than ever.

Drew Laing

First base: Tough decision, here. Loney would best, given his success with the Rays and how much of a hit he was with the fans, but I think he'll sign elsewhere for bigger money.

With the money freed up from trading David Price (see below), I think the Rays will sign Justin Morneau to a one-year deal. Ideally, they could wait on signing him and possibly drive his price down to $5-6 million, but I think somewhere around a 1 yr deal for $6-7 million will happen.

Catcher: I think the Rays are ready for Lobaton to play a bigger role, but I think they'll go after a guy like Kurt Suzuki to split time w/ him. He's a veteran, who can handle a pitching staff and seems to be a good guy in the clubhouse wherever he is.

High Leverage Bullpen Arm: Eventually, I think Jake McGee wins the closer role and Joel Peralta remains in his 8th inning role. As for Free Agent arms, I'll go with Luis Ayala as the right-handed guy in those six or seventh inning situations, opposite lefty-specialist Wesley Wright.

David Price: I absolutely think he'll be traded. Sure, if they kept him, it would give the Rays one of the best pitching staffs in the league, but the Rays plan for down the road. They have to b/c of their budget. Price's value will never be higher, given his 2 years of team control, so the Rays will trade him. If I had to get specific on what team and for who...I'll go with the Dodgers for Corey Seager and company. Personally, I hope they strike a deal w/ the Cardinals.

Chris Moran

Editor's Note: Allow me to introduce a new addition to our writing staff, Chris Moran! Chris is a second-year law student and assistant baseball coach at Washington University in St. Louis. He's written for multiple sites, including Prospect Insider, and has been featured on Gammons Daily. We're still getting Chris acclimated to DRaysBay, but give him a warm welcome and a follow Twitter @hangingslurves. - DR

First Base: Corey Hart. Hart could be a nice pick-up. He missed the entire 2013 season with an injury, but from 2010-12 he averaged a .279/.343/.514 line with a 130 wRC+.

Catcher: Dioner Navarro or Ryan Hanigan would be good buys for the Rays.

Hanigan is coming off an awful year, but he's a pitch-framing wizard who also has a career 114 wRC+ against lefties. He could be half of a good platoon with Jose Lobaton, and would be my first choice. Navarro quietly produced a 300/.365/.492 line with a 136 wRC+. I think he's become Jarrod Saltalamacchia, at a much lower price.

High Leverage Bullpen Arm: I could see the Rays trying to rehabilitate a hard thrower such as Joba Chamberlain, Joel Hanrahan or Matt Lindstrom.

David Price: Well, it doesn't look like the Rangers will be interested anymore.

The Dodgers might try to work a deal around Corey Seager, a 19 year-old shortstop who tore up A-ball to the tune of .309/.389/.529. The Cubs are loaded with prospects, and if the front office thinks they could contend while Price is still in his prime, they might also try and swing a deal.

Preet Patel

First Base: I like the odds of us getting Gaby Sanchez in a trade with Pittsburg. I'm not too sure what exactly would move the other way.

Either Sanchez would be a small part of a trade for David Price, or I could also see a package including Matt Joyce to net the first baseman. Alternatively, it's Matt Joyce going to 1B.

Catcher: I suspect we won't make a big move on this front. I think Lobaton will see more playing time, and that we'll bring back Molina to maintain status quo.

High Leverage Bullpen Arm: Various fliers on guys trading cheap is the right answer. I'd like to see us get Randy Choate as another lefty specialist, given that McGee is more a late innings guy of value against both LHH and RHH.

David Price: If there's a huge overpay like with Shields, then we'll take it.

My hunch is that there will in fact be a huge overpay offered. The Rangers would have been an option, but their situation has changed dramatically with the huge Fielder/Kinsler swap, so my pick is the Pirates (as noted above).

Erik Hahmann

Predictions are gonna be a crap-shoot. The first domino hasn't even fallen yet.

Danny Russell

First Base: The Rays trade OF Sam Fuld to Oakland for 1B Daric Barton.

Acquiring Daric Barton was a move made by Ian in the SB Nation off season simulation a few weeks back, when he signed Barton for $1.5M after he was released by Oakland. I'd rather skip the free agency aspect and swap one useful bench player (whose run appears to be at an end), for another.

Barton excels at patience and defense, both qualities the Rays prize in their position players. The Rays could start out with plans to platoon Barton with Sean Rodriguez, but the reality may be that he handles both kinds with some batting adjustments.

Currently, Barton bats extremely well on the outside of the plate, but struggles on pitches on the inner half of the strikezone. In other words, he already defaults to the B-hack. His swing features his front right leg positioned in the back, outside corner of the batter's box, and I think an adjustment bringing that leg in line with his shoulders could help Barton identify pitches on the inside. We've seen it work last season with Wil Myers, James Loney, and Luke Scott, who all excelled after similar adjustments were made by Derek Shelton.

For the Rays, an obvious trade piece is Sam Fuld, who is the odd man out on the roster. David DeJesus will likely be platooned in left field next season, and unfortunately for Fuld, they each bat from the same side of the plate. This should lead the Rays to use Brandon Guyer in Fuld's stead next season. Guyer is a superior base stealer, bats rather well from the right side of the plate, and has quality defense in the corners.

And on a personal note, this move makes sense relationally as well. Athletics GM Billy Beane is an outspoken fan of Barton, and it's no secret that the Rays are partial to Fuld. It would be kinder to each player to trade them to a competitive organization where they would find more regular playing time than to release the player.

Catcher: Rays trade Triple-A 2B/3B Vincent Belnome to the Reds for C Ryan Hanigan.

Vincent Belnome was named the MVP of the Durham Bulls last season, who were the runners up for their league, and Belnome played a big part in that success. The former 28th round pick was acquired from the Padres for LHRP Chris Rearick, and bounced back from consecutive seasons plagued by injury as Third Baseman for the Bulls. He knocked 46 XBHs (with eight home runs), batting .300/.408/.446.

Belnome was just added to the 40-man roster to defend him from the Rule 5 draft, which is a positive sign for his development -- despite his defensive profile, which lacks behind his offense. Either the Rays are broadcasting an inflated worth to the rest of baseball by protecting him on the roster, there by inflating others' perception, or we here at DRaysBay have grossly underestimated his talent. I'll go with the former and say now is a great time to sell high and acquire a quality catcher.

Hanigan is in the last year of arbitration and is hopefully a buy low candidate thanks to a down offensive season. He's an excellent pitch framer with a great mind for the game and managing a rotation, and is presumably third in line for the Reds after the signing of Bryan Pena to a two year contract.

Once he's acquired, I could see Friedman and Hanigan signing an extension for the next three years a $2.5M/$3.0M with an option for $3.5M with a 500K buyout, covering his final year of arbitration and two years of free agency.

High Leverage Bullpen Arm: Jesse Crain? Probably not.

You're not going to find an obvious name on this list. I think the Rays will be certainly qualified to go after Jesse Crain and Juan Carlos Oviedo, who were under contract with the Rays last season but didn't recover from injuries in time to join the bullpen. The investment of tending to their recovery is a sunk cost, but gives the Rays an inside track on their recovery, and hopefully comes with an established relationship that can encourage either player to return.

Internal options may be our best bet, with C.J. Riefenhauser and Kirby Yates -- both recently added to the 40-man roster as well -- developing into quality high leverage arms in Durham.

If I'm Friedman looking at the open market, I try and land David Aardsma or Chad Gaudin (if the carpal tunnel cleans up in relief) for their slider on a cheap contract, pending they fall through the cracks.

David Price: The Rays will trade David Price to the Chicago Cubs -- next year.

If I had to pick a match today for David Price, my gut takes me to the Cubs, who have a loaded farm system they are willing to deal with, and recently hired Price's old coach from Vanderbilt to take over the pitching coach duties at the Major League level. However, the Cubs aren't ready to deal just yet, as they'll want to ensure they're competitive enough to compete for a World Series title before making a costly acquisition.

On the Rays side, I don't think a team will meet our asking price for the Cy Young winner, and I don't think the Rays would sacrifice being competitive tomorrow for prospects. There's not a perfect storm.

If I am Friedman, I hold on to Price this season and take another shot at the Title with the starting rotation we have - one that will hopefully not suffer multiple concurring injuries next season. The Rays can use some of that $25M influx of TV money to cover the added salary.

The following off-season, when the cost of acquiring Price will be lower, then the Rays can trade him to Chicago for one of Almora or Soler to become the incumbent left fielder, along with DH prospect Dan Vogelbach and a starting pitcher to fill the void, like Justin Grimm. It's an easier trade that can benefit both sides immensely. If the Cubs are not competitive, the Rays can shop Price elsewhere.

Now lets say we hold on to Price and the team falters in the first half of the season for whatever reason. All the better! The desperation at the trade deadline would provide a fantastic haul for Price. Why trade him now?

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