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Who could the Rays acquire to fill in for Tyler Glasnow?

We consider a few external options.

League Championship Series - Boston Red Sox v Houston Astros - Game Three Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Tyler Glasnow was in the middle of a breakout, and the Rays were in first place, when he removed himself from a game. Right now the prognosis is 4-6 weeks on the shelf with a forearm strain.

That leaves a massive hole in the Rays nonstandard pitching rotation, as Glasnow was performing at a level that’s truly irreplaceable. But the innings will still need to be replaced, and there are a few ways to go about doing that.

Danny already ran down the most likely internal options, and we’ve already seen some of that happening. In the immediate term, Jalen Beeks is getting stetched out a bit more, Yonny Chirinos will continue to pitch starter innings, and Ryan Yarbrough will likely soon return to the majors — also more stretched out, and perhaps nearer his 2018 form. Casey Sadler has performed well so far, and he too could see his innings bumped up.

If all continues to go well with Jose De Leon’s rehab, he could relieve some of the innings load fairly soon, and Brendan McKay could always be put on an accelerated prospect timeline.

I’d just like to add one name to the list of internal options—Luis Santos was acquired on a minor league contract for situations like this, and he’s pitched decently in Durham, with a 3.00/3.66/4.67 ERA/FIP/xFIP. He’s not on the 40-man roster, and not beating down the door, but he’s in the mix if other options fail and an extra bulk guy becomes neccessary.

But what if the Rays go outside the organization? What could the Rays do via trade or free agency? Here’s who the DRaysBay staff are looking at:

JT Morgan: If the Rays make an addition it’ll be something that is clearly a step ahead of the bulk guys at this time. If it takes longer than the 4-6 week timeline for Tyler Glasnow to return, then there will be a few reasonable options that could be available. No team is ready to sell the kind of piece that would actually make the Rays better.

The only realistic option before July is Dallas Keuchel, but just barely.

It would be out of character for the Rays to give up the 40th overall pick, so we’re looking at three weeks until they would make that move, once the draft is done. Then, after a start or two in the minors against live batters to get in game mode, he likely wouldn’t be available to help the MLB team until Glasnow is scheduled to return.

By then, the Rays will have more information on how Glasnow’s recovery is going and, that will make this move more or less likely to occur. If the Rays are really looking to get somebody that makes the current team better then it’s the only reasonable option.

Danny Russell:

Madison Bumgarner is underperforming.

His 4.04 ERA (which is league average) is more of an error message when running his 3.43 FIP and 3.48 xFIP out there. His strikeout rate is up to above 25%, his walk rate is down to 3.5%, and his fastball velocity is trending up. It’s just a lousy 64.5% LOB rate depressing his overall results, which seems more like happenstance in the early run than anything else.

The four-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion is in the last year of his contract, and owed $12 million this season. Acquiring him now would put the Rays on the hook for just a portion of that salary, which is not a big deal for one of the lowest payrolls in baseball.

In trying to read the room on his trade value (and to condense a conversation had amongst our masthead), our consensus is that it would take a trade package in the neighborhood of what Yu Darvish was traded for a few years back to land Bumgarner.

That deal was infielder Willie Calhoun, pitcher A.J. Alexy, and infielder Brendon Davis. Of that batch, only Calhoun was a top-100 prospect, and he was in the 75-100 range. In other words, a prospect that projects as an average, everyday player (50 FV), but not one pushing the top-50 prospects of baseball.

Translated into Rays prospects, that means Nick Solak, Christian Arroyo, or possibly Lucius Fox as the headliner, with some interesting lower prospects thrown in. The Rays could also offer California native Daniel Robertson (who is not a free agent until 2024) to anchor the deal.

There’s a little bit of irony there, with Arroyo and Fox being former San Francisco Giants prospects, but the Rays are in a position to deal from their middle infield depth, and with each of those pieces flexible enough to meet future needs, I think this is an easy deal for the two now-familiar trade partners to complete.

Ian Malinowski: JT and I spend a lot of time violently agreeing, but I actually disagree with him here about the upgrade needing to be better than the current bulk guys. The issue isn’t with Chirinos, Beeks, or Yarbrough per se, but rather with the role they’re asked to play.

Before the Glasnow injury, the Rays filled their five rotation spots with three traditional starters (who they still aggressively limited innings the load for), and three bulk guys for the last two spots. Having the excess bulk guy allowed Kevin Cash to apportion innings more efficiency to take advantage of form and matchup, and limit the exposure and workload of all of his pitchers.

Now, with five pitchers filling five slots (and a busy schedule coming up), everybody has to do more, all up and down the rotation.

What the Rays need is another pitcher at a similar level to their existing bulk guys so that they can go back to a fluid assignment of roles. There are a lot of pitchers in the league who can turn over a lineup once, or on occasion twice.

Lemme just call out one I’ve liked for a while—the Tigers’ Blaine Hardy—with the understanding that there are many interesting arms in baseball, and I trust in the Rays’ opponent scouting to know them better than I do.

First check out this movement graph from 2018.

Blaine Hardy, 2018

Four-seam fastball with well over 10 inches of rise? Check. Two-seam style changeup with darting armside movment? Check. Big, 12-6 curve? Check. Hard cutter that falls off the table in one form, or scoots off the sweet part of the bat in another? Well . . . that’s kind of the issue. Nothing here is hard.

Hardy has movement to burn, but his fastball averaged 88 mph, and that cutter averaged 84 mph. He didn’t make the majors until he was 27, and he didn’t start until last year, at age 31, but he did surprisingly okay at that, pitching at least five innings nine times. Still he probably shouldn’t start.

So what do you call a guy who can definitely go three innings but who really shouldn’t go seven?

Detroit Tigers v Milwaukee Brewers
Blaine Hardy
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Hardy just returned from a forearm strain of his own, and hasn’t pitched great. He’s under team control for two more years, and is not a part of Detroit’s future. He should come cheap.

Also, there are a lot of guys like him in the world. There’s no reason for the Rays to get in a situation where they need Yarbrough and Beeks to go seven innings back-to-back.

Dominik Vega: James Shields. Danny completely convinced me that I want him back.

Editor’s Note: JT is still saying no. Let it be known that he does not endorse this take. The man is consistent.

Danny Russell: ...

Adam Sanford: The Mets have an interesting arm in Wilmer Font.

Editor’s note: Thanks, Adam.