With lefty reliever Xavier Cedeno on the shelf this year with an arm injury, the Rays are looking to fill that void via trade before the July 31 deadline. They need someone in the bullpen that can be relied on to get come in and consistently get left handed hitters out in high leverage situations.
Enter Detroit Tigers’ Justin Wilson, who the Rays have reportedly been targeting. The closer is sporting a 2.75 ERA, 2.97 FIP and 3.50 xFIP this year, which is in line with his career numbers. His role as a closer proves he’s been trusted to face all hitters, regardless of handedness. It also means he’s proven to be successful in high leverage situations.
Wilson is in his second year of arbitration and will have one year left on his rookie contract after this year. That “win”dow of opportunity fits well with the Rays, as they will have almost all of the key players back next year with a few budding prospects likely ready to step up and contribute.
Speaking of prospects, the Tigers are looking to rebuild and should want a return that helps them more in the future than today. The Rays have a robust farm system stocked full of prospects with potential that the Tigers will likely get to have some fun choosing from. Regardless of who they might trade away, the Rays system is deep enough to support the trade without taking much of a hit. The Rays would do well to use that depth to acquire Wilson while holding on to their top one or two prospects.
With the addition of Justin Wilson to a bullpen that just got a healthy Brad Boxberger and Tommy Hunter back, the Rays could turn their biggest weakness into a position of strength. That will play a huge role in their race towards a spot in the playoffs.