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MLB Trade Rumors: The Cardinals’ trade chips for the Rays’ Alex Colome

The Rays need a right-handed outfielder. The Cardinals have them.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals
One of the possibilities.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

From the abundance of the Instagram follows, the heart speaks.

If Alex Colome is indeed heading to the Cardinals, what are the Rays looking to acquire from St. Louis?

Earlier this offseason, JT Morgan looked into several players on the St Louis Cardinals whom the Rays should look to acquire in any deal, with right-handed outfielders being the easy target—the Cardinals have plenty, and the Rays will need one in 2018.

To paraphrase his excellent writing on those RHB: Dexter Fowler has a mega contract, the previously unheard of Tommy Pham put up 6-WAR at age 29, Stephen Piscotty is on a team-friendly six-year deal, Randal Grichuk is a poor man’s Mark Trumbo, and Jose Martinez doesn’t have the defense to make this a real discussion.

We can easily narrow that list to Pham, Piscotty, and Grichuk as the players of interest to the Rays. Nabbing at least one would fill a need, as the Rays only managed a paltry 90 wRC+ vs. LHP in 2017, and currently have no one on the 40-man roster to platoon with Mallex Smith. Recently acquired utility players Joey Wendel, Ryan Schimpf, and Micah Johnson are all left-handed.

Of course, a right-handed outfielder isn’t all the Rays should target. Mat Germain recently walked through the history of closer trades and determined the least the Rays should accept in an Alex Colome trade:

The least they should accept lies between the Andrew Miller trade noted above and the returns for Jake McGee. How much exactly is hard to pinpoint, but at minimum, a trade with any team should include one MLB (or MLB ready) player that can have an impact on the Rays fortunes in 2018. Depending on how much value that player has, he may or may not be accompanied with prospects

If the Rays are indeed looking for right-handed talent, there’s help to be found on the prospect side of things.

The Cardinals have two righty-hitting outfielders in their Top-10 prospect list from Baseball America, in Tyler O’Neill (No. 5) and Harrison Bader (No. 8).

Tyler O’Neill fits the Rays M.O. of adding power to their lineup as the team looks to stay afloat in the AL East. His father was an award-winning body builder in Canada and O’Neill looks the part as well. Key Quote from BA:

He packs double-plus power and knows it, which sometimes gets him in trouble when he gets too steep uphill in his swing plane.

Harrison Bader is a former product of the University of Florida who has hit better every year since he was drafted in the third round of 2015, but has also added strikeouts at each level. If the Rays target Bader, it will be because they like his ability to cover center field. Key Quote from BA:

Bader's size, aggressiveness and power is similar to Cardinals teammate Randal Grichuk, with the same risks if he loses his strike-zone discipline or fails to develop a two-strike approach.

Another right-handed bat the Rays could consider is catcher Carson Kelly (No. 3, per Baseball America), a former second round draft pick who has had two cups of coffee in the majors. A late convert to catching, his defense grades well, and, like all catchers, his speed does not. Kelly should be able to play at the major league level moving forward. Key quote from BA:

Kelly remains a defense-first catcher, but the gap between his glove and his bat has shrunk.

Exactly who the Rays acquire will be dependent upon who the Cardinals want to give up, but given the eight right-handed outfielders available, the Rays should be able to build a trade around at least one, and potentially add some other pieces to that as well.