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Which prospects are the Rays willing to trade?

The trade deadline is fast approaching.

Minor League Baseball: Florida State League-All Star Game Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 MLB Trade Deadline is fast approaching and the Tampa Bay Rays find themselves in a position to potentially make a huge splash in the coming days or weeks.

After Thursday night’s devastating extra inning loss to the New York Yankees, the Rays sit 7.5 games back of New York for the division. Fortunately however, the Rays are sitting in a playoff spot, as they hold a one game lead over the Cleveland Indians for the top Wild Card spot.

After dominating the league for the first two months of the season, the Rays ran repeatedly into a brick wall during the month of June, exposing the soft underbelly of the team that seemingly had little to no weaknesses to open the season.

With the deadline approaching, the Rays have been targeting high leverage arms to add to their bullpen as well as a potent right-handed bat to add to the middle of their lineup, and the Rays have the right

Wander Franco?

No, go away.

Here are the prospects the Rays might actually be willing to part with:

Jesus Sanchez - OF

Triple-A - 21 years old - 55 FV
On the 40-man roster

It is known that the Tampa Bay Rays dangled Jesus Sanchez in trade talks for Paul Goldschmidt and more than likely he was offered as part of the potential package for JT Realmuto. The Rays lost out on both of those star athletes, but those are only the types of players are the ones the Rays would be willing to lose Sanchez for.

Heading into the season, Sanchez was ranked as the 62nd best prospect in the game by Baseball America and as of July 1st, he has progressed to their 44th spot. Thus far this season, he is excelling as a 21 year old, hitting .275/.332/.404 with 8 HR over 316 plate appearances. His performance has merited a promotion to Triple-A.

Lucius Fox - SS

Triple-A - 22 years old - 45+ FV
Not on the 40-man roster - Rule 5 eligible

Fox hasn’t enjoyed that much success for the Rays since being acquired by the team at the 2016 trade deadline. Injuries and poor performance has limited his progress. Nonetheless, he is still just 22 years old and is the Montgomery Biscuits starting shortstop.

With his calling card being his speed, Fox has snagged 30 bases this season and although his contact skills have been sluggish this season, he still sports a 108 wRC+, thanks to his 13.2 BB%.

Like Solak, Fox’s path to the big leagues is also blocked and with him being Rule-5 eligible this offseason, the Rays may look to include him in any deal to sweeten or possibly headline an offer.

Joe McCarthy - OF

Triple-A - 25 tears old - 45 FV
On the 40-man roster

McCarthy is by all accounts, a major league hitter. Injuries have been detrimental to him through his playing career, including his college days. When healthy, McCarthy displays an impressive ability to get on base and slugged .513 with the Durham Bulls in 2018.

Unfortunately his injury struggles have carried into 2019 and he is putting up weak offensive numbers, despite walking 13.9% of the time.

McCarthy was added to the 40-man roster last November with a 40-man roster crunch looming, the Rays could look to part ways in order to clear space.

Taylor Walls - SS

Double-A - 23 years old - 45 FV
Not on the 40-man roster - not Rule 5 eligible

A 2017 3rd round draft pick by the Rays, after a slow professional start, Walls has hit at every level the Rays have placed him at since the start of the 2018 season. Walls displays good contact ability and often succeeds at getting on base. Since being promoted to Double-A, Walls has been phasing Fox away from the shortstop position, with Walls displaying a better defensive ability.

To quickly summarize, Walls can hit for average, get on base, and play stellar defense at short, all the makings of a future major leaguer. Unfortunately, for Wall, the Rays have so much depth up the middle that Walls future with the team is uncertain.

Garrett Whitley - OF

Single-A+ - 22 years old - 40+ FV
Not on the 40-man roster - Rule 5 eligible

The 13th overall selection in the 2015 draft, anytime Whitley has started to show the promise of a former 1st round pick, injuries have come along and hampered him. After two fantastic seasons in 2016 and 2017, Whitley seemed primed to breakout in 2018, but it was not to be as he would miss the entire year due to injury.

However, Whitley has picked right back up in 2019 as he currently sports a 118 wRC+ in the offensively suppressed Florida State League. One negative sign though is his abnormally high strikeout percentage (35.6%), which is well above his usual rate.

With former first round pedigree and professional success — albeit in the low minors — teams could be willing to take a chance on Whitley in the upcoming Rule 5 draft, making him a possible trade chip for the Rays to use this summer.

Christian Arroyo - INF

MLB (10-day IL) - 24 years old - 50 FV
On the 40-man roster

The prize of the Evan Longoria trade (other than the massive amount $ saved and miss witnessing the demise of the greatest player in franchise history), Arroyo has hit well since joining the Rays organization during the 2017-2018 offseason. Unfortunately however, he has been hampered by myriad injuries and is currently on the 10-day Injured List with right-forearm tendinitis.

The Rays have limited Arroyo whenever he is healthy and actually on their active roster. Since the start of the 2018 season, Arroyo is hitting .243/.322/.388 with 3 HR over 116 plate appearances. The Rays are stacked with middle infielders, and although Arroyo’s hit tool should make his a Major League regular, the Rays may look to part ways with him in a trade.

Less likely, but Rays could be convinced

Vidal Brujan - 2B

Double-A - 21 years old - 55 FV
Non on the 40-man roster - Rule 5 eligible

Brujan has quietly surged up prospect lists over the past few years as his excellent contact ability, paired with blazing speed, has made him one of the game top young players to watch. He earned a promotion to Double-A Montgomery a couple of weeks ago, and has excelled, already snagging 9 bases in just 12 games and possesses a 157 wRC+.

The Rays are highly unlikely to give up a player of Brujan’s caliber as he could serve as the table settle for the Rays offense for years to come if things pan out, but that won’t stop teams from asking for the Rays highly touted infielder/outfielder.

Ronaldo Hernandez - C

Single-A+ - 21 years old - 50 FV
Not on the 40-man roster - Rule 5 eligible

It hasn’t been a stellar year offensively for Hernandez, and his defensive capabilities continue to be a work in progress. Nonetheless, Hernandez is among the top prospects in all of baseball and is one of the top 5 catching prospects overall. Perhaps being offensively sapped in the Florida State League, Hernandez may thrive in Double-A, but regardless, he still has excellent potential to be an above average catcher in the Major Leagues one day.

Catchers are highly sought after, evidenced by the pursuit of JT Realmuto this past winter, and Hernandez is surely to be asked for by any team dealing with the Rays.

*Stats were as of July 12th