With only four days remaining until the trade deadline, let's check in on the latest trade rumors.
Tier 1 - Most Likely to be Moved
Steve Pearce - Pearce is the most likely Ray to be traded before August 1st. His contract is up after this season, and he has been so productive and offers such versatility that he could be a huge asset to a contending team.
Pearce holds a .389 Average and a 226 wRC+ against left-handed pitchers this season, while still producing a .285 Average and an 118 wRC+ against righties. Because he mashes lefties and can play multiple infield positions as well as corner outfield, he could potentially be a fit for some buyers at the deadline.
MLBTradeRumors has recently placed Pearce as the 8th most likely to be traded and the Indians have been named several times as the top team pursuing Pearce.
#Indians among several teams inquiring on #Rays Steve Pearce, who is very likely to be dealt before deadline— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 27, 2016
#Indians prioritizing someone who hits LHP well (Pearce 1.212 OPS v. LHs in '16/.861 in career), also has positional versatility— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 27, 2016
Other possible trade destinations were outlined in Mike Petriello's piece on MLB.com. Petriello makes a case for the Red Sox, Nationals, and Mets as good fits for Pearce.
Tier 2 - Could be moved
Jake Odorizzi and Matt Moore - Odorizzi and Moore have been some of the most talked about starting pitchers in this year's rumor mills for good reason. They are young, controllable and talented pitchers. Lately, however, rumors have started to dwindle on the Rays starting pitchers (especially if Texas decides to add another supplemental piece after acquiring Lucas Harrell) as Jerry Crasnick of ESPN writes:
"I think they'll take it to the offseason," said an official with a club in the starting pitcher market. "They'll get a lot of information now. They'll find out who's really serious, and then they'll take the month of August to really scout that organization and see who they have a good fit with. There's no urgency for them to do stuff now. They can set a price, and if they don't get it, they'll take it into the offseason and go from there."
Crasnick concludes that the Rays will likely jump if a contender decides to go above and beyond before the deadline, but that the Rays are likely to remain active in trade discussions over the winter. This makes sense as the free agent market this winter is lacking strong pitching options.
For Tampa Bay, the fact remains that none of its starters are set to reach free agency after the season, so there’s no real urgency to deal. The Rays’ surplus of controllable arms isn’t such a pressing matter that a deal is necessary, and none of its apparent trade pieces is really pitching to expectations. Jake Odorizzi has been steady enough, but the others — Chris Archer, Matt Moore, and Drew Smyly — have at best been inconsistent. Against that backdrop, perhaps it’s unsurprising that appealing offers have apparently not yet developed.
The Rays have set a high acquisition cost, and if they fail to receive an acceptable offer, then they will hold onto their starters and hope that as more teams are looking to improve pitching over the offseason, the right deal will present itself. There is always the possibility of the Rays retaining their starters for next season as none will become overly costly just yet.
Texas has been the most mentioned team that is interested in dealing with the Rays, as the two teams seem like a perfect fit. Rays have shown interest in Jurickson Profar or Joey Gallo, and so far the two teams haven't been able to work out a deal that satisfies both sides. More on Rays/Rangers possible trades here.
Tier 3 - Most likely won't get moved, but people have discussed anyway
Evan Longoria - Longo's season has been terrific. He is on pace to hit the most home runs he has ever hit while producing almost identical wRC+ v lefties (129) as v righties (131). His defense has remained solid as well as he has silenced many doubters who preached Evan's demise over the last couple of seasons.
There were rumblings that he may get traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers as Jon Morosi speculated that the teams might be discussing Longoria and not a starting pitcher, as previously thought. These rumors have been few and far between, and the consensus is that the Rays have no desire to see their cornerstone player wearing a different jersey anytime soon.
Chris Archer - Archer's name was mentioned as much as Odorizzi and Moore were when speculation began this summer, however, he has been getting some spotlight as we have gotten closer to the deadline. As with the Longoria murmurs, a lot of speculation went into a reunion with Andrew Freidman by way of trade to the Dodgers.
Exec from team that's been talking with the Rays says he sees such a good fit with Dodgers, places odds at "70 pct" Chris Archer lands in LA— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 21, 2016
According to Ken Rosenthal "The Rays believe there are roughly eight teams with strong enough farm systems to put together a package for right-hander Chris Archer in advance of the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline."
That limited amount of teams along with Archer's down season (compared to last year) might create a disagreement in a potential Archer blockbuster.
Drew Smyly -Smyly's name has been tossed around as another possible controllable starting pitcher. He is on pace for about a 2 WAR season despite his 2-11 record and atrocious 5.42 ERA.
There'd be interest if results had been different, but there's not much smoke as a history of multiple shoulder injuries and poor current performance are scaring teams away. The Pirates were at one point interested, but as with other Rays players, talk has diminished.
Pearce will most likely get traded because his contract is set to expire and he represents a good opportunity to receive some good prospects.
Other than him, the Rays could go either way with Moore and/or Odorizzi, or any other staring pitcher for that matter if a team offers up a juicy offer, or they could sit tight and wait until winter to reassess their roster.
The Rays are in the driver's seat when it comes to the starting pitching market, but they may not want to wait until too long. More names are likely to crowd the market.