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2024 MLB Buyers or Sellers: Tampa Bay Rays

Rays
(Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

2024 MLB Buyers or Sellers: Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays have always been an interesting team. They’ve made the playoffs consecutively from 2019-23. Now, they sit in last place in the AL East with many of their star players out until 2025. With how competitive the division is, would it be best for the Rays to sell at the trade deadline?

The team so far

Record(as of 6/18/24): 34-38, 15.0 GB of AL East, 6.0 GB of ALWC

Best hitters: Isaac Paredes, Amed Rosario, Yandy Diaz, Jose Siri, Jose Caballero

Best pitchers: Zach Eflin, Shawn Armstrong, Pete Fairbanks, Jason Adam, Garrett Cleavinger

Buyers or Sellers?

The Rays haven’t been clicking in many departments and are in last place in a tough AL East. Star arms such as Shane McClanahan, Jefferey Springs, and Drew Rasmussen are out until 2025. The Rays don’t have/need to do a full tear down, but instead some sort of retooling and selling off rental pieces.

The biggest name for the Rays to potentially trade is Randy Arozarena. The outfielder is having the worst season of his career and isn’t a free agent until 2026, so it’s unlikely he’d truly be moved.

Randy Arozarena

As I mentioned before, he isn’t a free agent for another few years and sucks right now. There might still be teams interested in the player he normally is, but I doubt the Rays sell him and his low point. The team is smart, and trying to trade him now won’t get a good enough package.

Arozarena is slashing .178/.291/.326 with nine home runs and 22 RBIs. His wOBA ranks 149th of 157 qualified hitters. He hasn’t dealt with injury, so the season-long slump is a mystery.

Zach Eflin

Eflin is in the second year of his three-year $40 million deal with the Rays. He sports a 4.12 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 57 strikeouts in 74 innings.

He finished sixth in AL Cy Young Award voting last year and has postseason experience. The Braves have already shown interest in the right-hander, and he should nab the Rays a pretty good return.

Amed Rosario

It’s Rosario’s first season with the Rays and he’s been one of the better bats for them. He’s slashing .299/.321/.412 with two homers and 23 RBIs.

Teams could always use utility men for the postseason. Rosario can play just about anywhere with a solid bat and defense to go with him. Since he’s a free agent after this season, the return won’t be insane, but he’s only 28 years old and should net the Rays something good.

Pete Fairbanks

The Rays pitching lab has done wonders for Fairbanks. He has a 2.90 ERA in his six years with Tampa Bay and currently is throwing a 3.13 ERA with 25 strikeouts and 10 saves in 23 innings.

Fairbanks has a club option in 2026 before hitting free agency in 2027, so the Rays don’t have to ship him off just yet. Teams will always look for a late-inning relief arm for October, but the Rays have time to keep him around and build the bullpen.

Garrett Cleavinger

Lef-handed relievers are always a hot commodity. Cleavinger is another example of the Rays pitching lab doing wonders. He currently sports a 3.49 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, and 35 strikeouts in 28 innings.

Cleavinger is an interesting case. He won’t be a free agent until 2028 and will undergo his first season of arbitration at the end of this year. However, he’s already 30 years old. The return the Rays could get would be interesting given those factors, but teams can get desperate for bullpen arms.

The Rays don’t have to do much. Shipping away a few rentals to get some young, MLB-ready talent and focusing on 2025 would be the best bet. They won’t catch up to the Yankees and Orioles. The Rays could decide to wait a bit until it gets closer to the deadline, but I don’t expect any huge moves.

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