We have officially entered "trading season" in Major League Baseball. From now until August 1, teams poised for a playoff spot will try to patch up their weak spots by acquiring players from non-contenders. We know what that means.
I know it. You know it. The Rays are sellers. And they seem to be drawing lots of interest from teams right now.
Varying reporter have spotted several scouts at games where Jake Odorizzi and Matt Moore have pitched, and Drew Smyly is gathering some as well.
The Texas Rangers have been one of the teams sending scouts to watch them, and a name that has popped up in trade rumors that could be included in a potential deal is highly regarded prospect Joey Gallo. From Jeff Passan (Yahoo! Sports):
"The match between the Rays and Rangers is clear. Texas wants controllable pitching. Tampa Bay needs young hitting. If the Rangers are willing to give up Joey Gallo - and sources familiar with the talks believe they are - something could come together quickly."
Now, I'm not fond of this for many reasons, but two stand out as clear roadblocks:
First, the Rays have had historically had little success when dealing with low contact sluggers on their team. In 64 games at Triple-A Ground Rock this season, Gallo has hit .247/.383/.547 - not exactly pleasing to the eye for a team who already struggles getting on base.
Gallo's still only 22 and has considerable upside. But, as of right now, he only brings what the Rays already possess - more power, but with low contact. As a team, the Rays current contact % rate is 74.7%, while the league average is 78.4%. Regarding Gallo, in 36 games (123 PA) last season with Texas, he had a contact % rate of 52.9%. Which is a whoppin' 26% lower than the league average!
And the Rays have plenty of it. They've slugged 124 home runs this year, 7th most in the MLB. Meanwhile, their .239 batting average (28th in MLB) and 841 strikeouts (4th most) leave a lot to be desired.
Second, Gallo plays both corner infield spots, and neither particularly well. At 3rd base for the Rays, Longoria is slugging the ball, and should bring legitimate productivity to the team for at least another 4 years if they choose not to part with him. At 1st base they have Connor Gillaspie and Jake Bauers in the pipeline, both of whom are very promising prospects, waiting in the minors for their turn in the big leagues and far better defenders.
Given the Rays penchant for defense, that likely relegates Gallo to DH duty, a role already occupied by Corey Dickerson for the foreseeable future. His roster spot is not clear.
Yes the Rays should be focused on acquiring high upside prospects who can contribute in the future, but the next step in building a consistent successful offense is acquiring players who can get on base, and the Rays need defense to come together for their model to be successful. Joey Gallo doesn't fit that bill.