“Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi and Houston Astros righty Collin McHugh suddenly have much in common. Both are awaiting salary-arbitration hearings. Both are under club control for two more seasons. And both are drawing trade interest, according to major league sources.”
What we know about Odorizzi
Odorizzi is coming off arguably his worst season in the majors. He finished the season with a 4.14 ERA / 5.43 FIP / 5.10 xFIP slash line that is all-around scary. His strikeout rate (21.0 percent) was his lowest since 2013, and his 10.1 percent walk rate was the highest of his career. His 10.9 percent K-BB% ranked 61st out of 90 pitchers with at least 140 innings pitched.
Then again, Odorizzi is still only 27 years old, was a consistent 2.0-3.0 win player from 2014-2016, and is set to make just over $6 million after his arbitration hearing (The Rays side is offering $6.05 MM, while Odo is looking for $6.3 MM). He will most likely produced more than $6 MM in value in 2018, but the Rays are still looking to lower payroll, and trading Odorizzi is one viable one of doing so.
With all that in mind, what could the Rays look for in return for Odo?
DRB trade guru JT Morgan has some possible matches, while Darby and I have some counterpoint thoughts on the potential returns.
JT’s Take: Prospects of interest from Twins would be Wander Javier, Akil Baddoo, Blayne Enlow, and Brusdar Graterol if you’re getting prospects in the deal. Javier is closer to the current value you would expect from a headliner. The back two are guys with big upsides that are just as far away but riskier profiles.
Javier is the player who FanGraphs called the Twins “stud” after the 2017 season, a shortstop with great contact skills. Enlow is the no. 13 ranked Twins prospect, per MLB.com, an 18-year-old righty who has a nice all-around profile. Graterol is a bit of a helium prospect who has a high-90s fastball, with a nice four-pitch mix; three guesses what he needs to work on.
Darby’s Take: Max Kepler. The 22-year-old German is incredibly interesting, even if he has faltered down the stretch each of the past two seasons. He has a career OPS of .732, supported more by pop (.183 career ISO) than batting average (career .239 BA), and his floor is likely a 20-25 HR, athletic outfielder who will contribute two wins or so for the next ten years or so.
Jim’s Take: Which is why the Rays would likely have to sweeten the pot a bit if they were actually to make Kepler the target of their Odorizzi trade. Maybe toss in a middle-of-the-road prospect, or add Alex Colome and ask for another small piece from Minnesota.
The Twins are the most intriguing trade candidate of these three, as they are the only side that are not in the same division as the Rays. The old stand-by of “never trade within your league” has been a bit laxed in recent years, but I still think the Rays would prefer to ship Odo out of the AL East, at least.
JT’s Take: The Orioles farm confuses me. There are guys to like, but they are all over the place. Hays, Sisco, and Mountcastle probably would be off the table, but you could make an argument that they could be available if you add something. DL Hall is probably the best prospect you could reasonably ask for outside of the walking injury report that is Hunter Harvey. Cody Sedlock and Keegin Akin are two guys who are interesting a little further down their system. The big thing here is the Rays have already mined the guy they probably like most outside the very top of the system.
Jim’s Take: My first thought was to take a flier on Kevin Gausman, but given that he is set for a contract that nearly exactly matches Odorizzi, that wouldn’t do much on the “saving money” front. Plus, Gausman is an even bigger risk to implode in 2018 than Odo (though I think his ceiling is quite a bit higher). I like the idea of going after a few proven bullpen arms, but the O’s pen in mostly filled with regression candidates. Maybe the O’s would just trade us Tim Beckham back?!
New York Yankees
JT’s Take: Working out a Yankees deal makes my brain hurt. They have so many guys that are really intriguing. I can’t imagine the Rays would do a major deal with either the Yankees or Red Sox, but if they make an offer you really like you consider it.
I think the Yankees goal has been to get the best pitcher they can for Clint Frazier. Frazier is too much for Odorizzi. He’s ultra blocked, so you never know. I think Frazier is overrated by prospect name value, but would be a good fit for what the Rays lack at the upper levels of the minors in right-handed outfield bat.
Jim’s Take: As the naive trade fan, I am ALL ABOUT the idea of the Rays snagging Frazier from the Yankees. I think JT is right that he has nowhere to go in New York, and the Yankees are going to have to cash that chip in at some point. Even if it took Odo and Colome for Frazier and maybe a low-level lottery ticket, I’d think I’d take that deal in an instant.
What about you guys? What are some potential Odorizzi trades you’ve been cooking up during this offseason freeze?