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Tampa Bay Rays trade rumors: Why haven't the Rays traded Jake McGee or Brad Boxberger?

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Throughout the winter, we've heard that the Rays might entertain dealing a relief pitcher. And by relief pitcher, I mean Jake McGee or Brad Boxberger. Both have been successful closers at the major league level and both presumably have sky-high trade value, given recent market trends.

Intelligent front offices across baseball have been dishing out top-prospects in an attempt to build the best bullpens possible. Craig Kimbrel. Aroldis Chapman. Ken Giles. Carson Smith. And the hot stove runneth over with rumors for any other reliever on a so-so team out there.

There could be several explanations.

Maybe the success of the World Series winning Royals, who had multiple shut down relievers to lean on throughout the last couple years, has created a market frenzy.

Perhaps these front offices know something the rest of baseball does not, and see immediate value in trading future assets for the best bullpens possible.

Maybe there are a disproportionate number of good relievers on bad baseball teams, and these bottoming-out franchises will score any prospects they can get in their rebuilds. Better yet, maybe the prospects we've seen dealt are really lemons, and the market is none-the-wiser.

Or maybe this is just a bank run on relievers, triggered by the monster deal by Boston to acquire Craig Kimbrel.

Any way you slice it, we know that a market exists, but the Rays have yet to trade either of their top relievers when the prices have never been better. Why?

Let's run through the possibilities:

Option 1: The Rays are asking too much from other teams

While the Rays should certainly be content to hold on to both high leverage arms, there's logic as to why the team would trade either closer.

Boxberger may have already given his best performance to the Rays back in 2014, and while he led the AL in saves this season, could see the bottom continue to fall out on his game.

McGee had three significant injuries in 2015, which passed the closer torch to Boxy, and is approaching expensive levels of pay in his team control -- and rightfully so. His performance over the last couple seasons wasn't far off from the best relievers in baseball.

And if the Rays feel they have good reason to trade either player, maybe other teams don't trust Tampa Bay's willingness to sell, and at this point want nothing to do with either player. If the Rays are equating the trade value of Kimbrel and McGee or Giles and Boxberger -- and why not -- it's easy to imagine other teams backing off.

Option 2: There aren't enough buyers out there at market prices

At least one thing is true, there are still plenty of buyers to be had.

The Dodgers are still in the market after backing out on Aroldis Chapman. The Cubs seem very interested in finding another closer. The Tigers are in their constant state of bullpen re-build, having lost out to the Cardinals on Korean-born closer Seung-hwan Oh. And that doesn't count the franchises out there who might fancy themselves as contenders.

But it's also possible that desire and willingness to deal have yet to match up for those franchises. If top relievers are that expensive, and we live in a brave new world of accurate pricing on the market, that asking price might be too high for other franchises to accept.

The Dodgers and Cubs, for instance, have the players to make such a deal happen. But they may also recognize the cost is greater than the gamble they would be willing to make on a reliever.

Option 3: The Rays saw the rest of the division upgrade and chose to keep their guys

Relievers are a fickle thing; even the best bullpens implode. Variance is not only likely but inevitable.

Ian started down this road yesterday in his examination in the value of relievers:

If relievers are currently overpriced, as they may be, the Rays should sell. But if the pricing is accurate, then their path needs to be more nuanced.

Trading the dependable Jake McGee for his true, large value and replacing him with lesser but high-volatility pieces is a net win for the Rays, as they're unable to count on having a higher average performance expectation than their richer rivals.

But the call to arms from Ian is not that different than any scenario where a club finds itself to not be a top dog -- or better yet, finds itself to be David facing Goliath.

There are no guarantees in baseball, every move is a manner of gambling: betting on certain players to deliver the value each team needs to make the World Series. Goliaths can afford the high-priced, steady value of the best relievers in baseball. The Kimbrels and Chapmans.

When you are a David, your bets need to be on low-priced, high-variance outcomes, and take advantage everywhere else you can.

So let's turn return to the situation at hand. Relievers are high-variance assets in and of themselves, and the Rays already have two. If the top relievers in baseball are being traded for top prices, that shouldn't be surprising. And if that pricing is accurate, the Rays should continue operating as normal.

By having McGee and Boxberger, they already have their low-cost, high-variance bets in hand. This is a reasonable answer, unless...

Option 4: The market has been slow to develop, but is in fact overpriced

With something like five weeks until Spring Training begins, it might feel as though time is ticking away, but relative to the trade market, not much time has elapsed.

If this market for relievers is entirely overpriced, and the Rays recognize it, then option three is incorrect.

in that case, we're living in the world of in-between, making a reliever trade slow to develop, but imminent.

What say you?