The Winter Meetings are always a source of constant speculation about that next big baseball blockbuster that sends the sport’s world into a frenzy. This year, the Rays are at the center of many of the hottest rumors.
The Seattle Mariners made a shocking move late Sunday night as they traded former prized prospect Jarred Kelenic to the Atlanta Braves in a deal that involved five players in total and a lot of salary coming off of the books for Seattle. Earlier this offseason, Seattle made another trade that cleared another significant portion of their payroll constraints as they sent third baseman Eugenio Suarez to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
With those moves, the Mariners cleared around $30M in payroll for the 2024 season (they did send a thus far undisclosed amount of cash to the Braves in the Kelenic deal as well).
While Seattle has been tearing down parts of their roster, the team has also been involved in plenty of speculation about the additions they’re looking to make, particularly at left field and third base. Which team has exciting players at those position? The Rays, of course, with the very well-known Randy Arozarena, and the under-the-radar Isaac Paredes.
Jon Morosi and Jeff Passan have both been reporting this offseason that the Rays are open to trading Isaac Paredes with Morosi taking it a step further by reporting that the Mariners and Rays have engaged in trade discussions.
Isaac Paredes is one name to watch on the trade market this week. He’s arbitration-eligible, which means the Rays will listen on him. He’s of interest to the Mariners and Blue Jays, among other teams. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 3, 2023
Ken Rosenthal also reported, for The Athletic, that the Rays and Mariners talked Paredes, and Arozarena as well, but that was early on in the offseason and the Mariners were hamstrung by financial constraints, making a deal unlikely. That hinderance has obviously been cleared.
Arozarena is entering year 2 of arbitration and is projected to make around $9M; he is also under control for three more seasons.
Paredes meanwhile is eligible for arbitration the first time this offseason and should receive a significant raise following a breakout 2023 campaign, but only projects to make around $3.2M; he is under control for three more seasons as well.
The Rays are not in a position where they have to dump either of these players as both are still affordable and provide plenty of production. They could, however, be looking to cash in on Paredes breakout season as well as clearing a space on the active roster for Curtis Mead or Junior Caminero, both of whom are big league ready but without a position to call home.
Arozarena, meanwhile, has been remarkably consistent since being acquired by the Rays. From 2021 through 2023, he has hit .264/.349/.443 and averaging over 20 HR a season and has compiled a total of 74 stolen bases. His wRC+ from those years are as follows: 127 | 124 | 126.
It’s hard to imagine the Rays parting ways with both Arozarena and Paredes in a single deal, as it would take a better haul of prospects than the Mariners can offer, and require MLB talent they likely envision deploying in 2024.