Take a long, deep breath.
The ink isn’t even dry on the Rays 2023 season and the lead for the Sunday article in the Tampa Bay Times is exactly the narrative we’ve been accustomed to as Rays fans: it’s time to trade that star athlete you love so much.
The most likely scenario is for the Rays to trade Tyler Glasnow.
He is due to make a team-record $25 million next season, having signed an extension that delayed free agency a year.
Interwoven with statements like “I love the Rays so much,” and “I would like to stay,” the star pitcher and clubhouse leader is portrayed as a luxury, not a necessity to running a respectable major league team.
And what’s the alternative? Oh, just trading Randy Arozarena? The guy who has been responsible for filling two entire outfield sections every Friday night? In a stadium that doesn’t often get filled? Great. Why is that even on the table?
It's Randy's Land, Randy's World, you're all just living in it. pic.twitter.com/D1BHxrHTiT— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 24, 2023
And this was a follow-up to the October 10 end of season press conference salary bellowing, where Topkin’s salary doom and gloom said mid-season acquisition and rotation savior Aaron Civale ($4.6 million) and DH Harold Ramirez ($4.4 million), “aren’t star quality,” as a means to make the reader skeptical they’ll be around next year.
Not star quality? No kidding! Stars make $25 million, Randy makes less than $10 million, and these players make less than half of Randy’s salary. They’re all bargains!
There are arguments to be made that some players are too expensive for their current role (Platoon OF Manuel Margot, $10 million), risk (injury!), or just replaceable due to a wealth of major league depth (2B Brandon Lowe, $8.75 million). Why doesn’t the conversation start there?
One reason Glasnow and Randy are two of the first three players mentioned would be that they presumably represent the largest trade value in the upcoming off-season, but that’s also not true. Isaac Paredes, who hit the quietest 31 home runs ever, and AL batting champion Yandy Diaz arguably offer more to inquiring teams. Diaz is also 32-years old (old, like Glasnow) with an $8 million contract (near Randy’s projected salary). Why is he unmentioned?
The answer isn’t “for clicks,” as Topkin’s reporting is always well (even if anonymously or discretely) sourced. No, the answer is right in front of you.
Now you might be thinking: Of course teams trade players. Of course teams have budgets and try to stay within them. Of course Glasnow has some legitimate questions marks, including injury risk, that could mean that a trade is in the Rays interests.
Indeed, Glasnow faces the usual concerns of a player coming back from Tommy John surgery, and he’s also missed time, across his career, to other injuries. $25 million is a lot of eggs to be put in one basket when you’re poor. But that’s the rub.
Why do Glasnow and Arozarena lead the off-season narrative of players to be traded?
It’s just a sad reality of dollars and cents, instead of an appeal to baseball reason or sense.
Since you’re here, allow me to power rank my own list of players the Rays might trade, based on their relative value to the Rays given their projected salary.
1. Manuel Margot (29-years old, $10 million, plus center field defense)
2. Yandy Diaz (32-years old, $8 million, best season at advanced age)
3. Harold Ramirez (29-years old, $4.4 million projected, DH’s are replaceable)
4. Brandon Lowe (29-years old, $8.75 million, 3 years team control at a position of depth)
5. Christian Bethancourt (32-years old, $2.3 million, lost starting role to Rene Pinto)
And if you’re looking for a definitive conclusion to this article, allow me to go out on a limb here and say: your trade list should not be headed automatically by the guys who earn the most, but rather, by the guys the market values the most in your positions of depth.