- The Nationals are also one of the many teams interested in Rays starter Nathan Eovaldi, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Washington won’t necessarily have any room in the rotation once assuming Stephen Strasburg returns from the DL when expected, though Eovaldi could conceivably replace Jeremy Hellickson or the struggling Tanner Roark. The Yankees, Brewers, and Braves have also been linked to Eovaldi, and scouts from at least five other teams have been watching his recent outings.
TODAY: Rays manager Kevin Cash didn’t provide Topkin and other reporters with a clear timeline on Ramos’ injury, as the catcher had yet to be fully examined by team doctors. Still, Cash said “I think it’s fair to say he’s going to miss some time” in the form of a DL stint.
SATURDAY: Rays catcher Wilson Ramos has a hamstring injury, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports via Twitter. The 30-year-old backstop will sit out the All-Star game, and said he expects he’ll end up on the disabled list.
Obviously, the 49-46 Rays will miss having Ramos for any length of time, as the downtick in production from the All-Star to their backup catcher Jesus Sucre is significant (to put it lightly). The veteran backstop has been worth 1.8 fWAR to date, in large part due to a .297/.346/.486 slash line and a 130 wRC+ that easily ranks highest among MLB catchers.
But as the Rays aren’t considered contenders for a playoff spot in a lopsided American League (and particularly unlikely to catch up to their two juggernaut AL East foes), the more pressing implications come from Ramos’ trade value. It’s possible a hamstring injury could sideline him for a couple of weeks, depending on the grade of the strain. That would take us through the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline, by which the Rays had surely hoped to trade Ramos for players who could help them in future seasons, not to mention unloading his remaining salary from their ever-tight payroll.
Even if Ramos misses only the 10-day minimum, he’ll have just a few days to prove his health to contending teams in order to return to full value in the eyes of potential trade partners. It’s at the very least another knock on him in terms of overall durability; he’s already dealt with knee and hamstring injuries throughout the course of his career.
The Rays have acquired lefty reliever Hoby Milner from the Phillies in exchange for cash considerations, the club has announced. Milner was designated for assignment by Philadelphia earlier this week. The Rays designated right-hander Ryan Weber for assignment to create roster space for Milner.
One might have thought Milner would have a longer leash with the Phillies after his excellent rookie season with them last year. He managed a 2.01 ERA across 31 1/3 innings in 2017, though with unsightly peripherals including 6.32 K/9 against 4.60 BB/9. Furthermore, he benefited from a likely unsustainable 91.1% strand rate that helped his run prevention totals greatly.
This season, Milner made ten appearances in the majors spanning 4 2/3 innings. He allowed four earned runs, with three of them coming in one appearance. At the Triple-A level in 2018, Milner has outpitched his peripherals much in the same manner as he did last season; he’s managed at 2.39 ERA despite a 4.78 BB/9. Again, that can partially be credited to his 87.7% strand rate. He’ll now serve as depth for the Rays, who have been known for unusual (and effective) bullpen usage this season.
This is the second time that Weber has been designated by the Rays, with the first occasion (back in April) resulting in an outright assignment to Triple-A. Weber has tossed just 5 1/3 MLB innings for Tampa this year, and nine Major League innings total over the last two seasons. A groundball specialist who doesn’t miss many bats, Weber has posted a very strong 2.12 ERA over 241 2/3 career Triple-A innings.
While it’s unclear if either Skaggs or Heaney will hit the block, Rays righty Nathan Eovaldi will likely end up on the move in the next couple weeks. The Yankees, with whom he pitched from 2015-16, have “closely” watched Eovaldi of late, as have the Brewers and Braves (among others), Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports. Eovaldi’s most recent start was a nightmare, as he allowed eight earned runs on nine hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings against Minnesota on Friday. In the process, his season ERA climbed from 3.35 to 4.59 (with a 4.45 FIP) over 51 innings.
- More from Sherman, who reports that Twins righty Jake Odorizzi is “very available.” The Twins acquired Odorizzi fom the Rays during the winter, when they had designs on a second straight playoff trip, but Minnesota has since struggled to a 43-49 record. Odorizzi hasn’t really been part of the solution, having logged a 4.54 ERA/4.63 FIP through 101 innings, but he is controllable beyond this season. The 28-year-old’s on a $6.3MM salary now and has a season of arbitration eligibility remaining.
The Astros have had discussions with the Rays regarding the possibility of acquiring catcher Wilson Ramos, according to a report from MLB.com’s Jon Morosi (via Twitter). No further details surrounding the connection are available at this time.
Ramos, who’s closing in on his 31st birthday, is earning $10.5MM this year and will return to the open market at season’s end. He’s clearly the best rental catcher that is likely to be made available, though there are certainly some good backstops with lengthier contract rights that might also be targeted by contenders.
Through 303 plate appearances this season in Tampa Bay, Ramos carries an excellent .291/.340/.479 slash line with 14 home runs. He certainly has his deficiencies on the basepaths. And he surely isn’t among the best-regarded defensive catchers, though he has at times graded quite well as a framer and has been within range of average in most measurable catching skills in recent seasons. (Ramos’s blocking and framing drew lesser marks last year, though perhaps it’s fair to give him a bit of a pass since he was returning from ACL surgery.)
Evidently, that overall package holds some appeal to the ’Stros, who are looking for ways to improve an already excellent roster. With Brian McCann currently on the DL, the club is utilizing Max Stassi and Tim Federowicz behind the dish, though the expectation surely will be that McCann and Stassi will split the duties once the former is back to health.
There are some who don’t believe the Astros ought to be considering change at the catching position, at least down the stretch this year. There’s no reason publicly known to think that McCann won’t be able to return after a relatively minor knee surgery, though perhaps there is some concern there. Stassi is in the midst of a breakout effort at the plate in his first extensive action at the major-league level. Of course, he’s also striking out at a 30.5% clip and has not often sustained this kind of output (.253/.339/.468) in the minors. Still, it seems that the Houston organization is at least looking into trying to improve.
- Though the Rays have surprised and as of Tuesday sit four games over .500, they’re still buried in the AL East, and Peter Gammons of the Athletic tweets that their goal this month is to extract as much as they can in trades for Wilson Ramos, Nathan Eovaldi and Adeiny Hechavarria. Gammons notes that the Rays have also been getting inquiries on right-hander Matt Andriese, though, as teams scour the market for relief help. Andriese, 28, is controlled through 2021 and has a 3.63 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 0.87 HR/9 and a 51 percent grounder rate. He’s capable of working both in the rotation and ’pen, as well, so teams likely have interest in him in a variety of roles.
The Rays held a long-awaited press conference today to announce the team’s plans for a new ballpark in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa, Florida, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports in a still-developing story. While hurdles still remain for making the vision a reality, it’s certainly an encouraging moment for the organization and supporters of baseball in the region.
Since beginning play in 1998, the then-Devil Rays have utilized Tropicana Field as a home park. The domed facility has long drawn criticism for its inconvenient location, among other demerits, and the club has never drawn particularly well.
Of course, poor attendance is now a leaguewide concern. And it’s an issue that has plagued the Rays’ neighbors to the south, the Marlins, even since they got a shiny new ballpark. The Tampa Bay organization is surely hoping to avoid some of the pitfalls from that experience.
The design unveiled today is for a cozy and quite unusual facility with a total capacity that would max out at 30,842 paying visitors (with 28,216 fixed seats). That would make it the smallest MLB park in existence.
Architecturally, the plan is unique: a fixed, translucent roof with flourishes that evoke the manta ray that originally inspired the team’s nickname and still features in its logos. Sliding glass walls would also allow natural light while permitting partial exposure to the outside elements, though unfortunately grass is not considered compatible with the approach. At first glance, it seems a rather appealing means of balancing local peculiarities with a classic ballpark experience, though it’s certainly not a design that will be loved by purists. (Some images are available at the above link.)
Of course, the Marlins Park troubles aren’t really related to ballpark design so much as financial and political considerations. Public financing will be a hot topic surrounding the Rays’ prospective facility, no doubt, with supplemental economic opportunities representing an important element.
As John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times explains, in a nice overview of the broader situation, the general circumstances seem favorable to finally getting something done, but the dollars and cents remain a looming obstacle. Club president Brian Auld acknowledges, regarding financing, that the team still does not “have those answers yet,” as Topkin adds (Twitter links). Preliminary estimates are that the new park would cost $892MM to install.
- With relatively few truly compelling rental starters available this summer, we’ve heard a variety of young hurlers mentioned as possible targets. Among them is emerging Rays lefty Blake Snell, who carries a sparkling 2.09 ERA with 10.2 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 through 116 frames this year. It seems, though, that fans pining for Snell will need to adjust their expectations. A National League executive tells Peter Gammons (Twitter link) that there’s no reason whatsoever to think the southpaw is available. The unnamed front office member says his or her club was left with the impression that there’s “no chance” of making a deal for Snell, so much so that any suggestions put out about a possible deal are little more than “fictional garbage.” It always seemed it’d take a major haul to land Snell, who is just 25 years of age and won’t be a free agent until 2023, but this report indicates that even a bold effort may be fruitless to attempt. Frankly, that’s not terribly surprising: though the Rays have spun off many quality pitchers over the years, they have typically done so when those hurlers began to get expensive and close in on free agency.
Archer, 29, has been on the shelf since June 3 due to an abdominal strain. While the injury originally wasn’t expected to result in an absence of this length, Archer’s rehab was slowed along the way as the Rays exercised some caution in easing him back into the mix. He’ll rejoin a Rays staff that features Blake Snell and Nathan Eovaldi in traditional starting roles, plus, of course, several relievers working in more unconventional hybrid roles (e.g. Ryne Stanek, Ryan Yarbrough).
Through 76 1/3 innings this season, Archer is sitting on a 4.24 ERA with 9.0 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 and 1.1 HR/9 with a 43.7 percent ground-ball rate. While those numbers don’t immediately stand out, Archer’s overall line is still being dragged down by a slow start to the season. However, after posting a near-8.00 ERA through his first four outings, Archer largely rounded into form, tossing 55 2/3 innings of 2.91 ERA ball over his next nine outings before landing on the disabled list.
As ever, Archer’s name figures to be prominently featured on the rumor mill so long as he’s healthy and reasonably effective moving forward — and perhaps more than ever before if he’s able to continue where he left off in terms of performance prior to his DL stint. Archer is on one of the game’s friendlier pitching contracts, as he’s controlled through 2021 at a combined total of $30.29MM (including the remaining $2.79MM on this season’s $6.25MM salary). That’s a reasonable enough price as it is, but the value is enhanced further by the fact that the final two seasons of control come in the form of club options, granting the Rays or any acquiring a team a means of escaping the deal should Archer sustain any type of severe injury.
It’s not clear just how seriously the Rays will entertain the idea of trading Archer, though at 16 games back in the AL East and 11 games out of a Wild Card spot (despite a perhaps surprisingly solid 45-44 record on the season), it stands to reason that they’ll be selling off at least some pieces. Wilson Ramos and Eovaldi are widely expected to be dealt over the next few weeks, while Alex Colome and Denard Span were already traded more than a month ago. Several other Tampa Bay veterans figure to be on the block between now and the end of trading season, though Archer would likely require the greatest haul of any player the Rays will conceivably market to other clubs.
- The Rays had a pair of scouts watching the Nationals’ Class-A affiliate over the weekend, tweets Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. While most teams obviously send scouts to watch other clubs year-round, and other teams surely had scouts on hand at that game as well, it’s nonetheless notable at a time when rumors have been circulating that the Nationals could pursue a trade that would bring Tampa Bay catcher Wilson Ramos back to D.C.