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July 28, 2017

Prospectus Roundtable

Tampa Bay Rays: Cheap Thrills?

by Rob Mains, Meg Rowley, Matthew Trueblood, Bryan Grosnick and Craig Goldstein


Tampa Bay is 53-50 and facing the usual issues with payroll, attendance, and division difficulty. Should they go for it this season, parting with long-term assets for short-term help, or stay the course and keep the competitive window open for as long as possible? Our roundtable debates the pros and cons of each side, with a couple interruptions from the Rays making trades.

Matthew Trueblood: We should start, I guess, by noting that the Rays took their first step toward fixing a shaky bullpen over the weekend, adding Sergio Romo.

This roster really interests me. I think the first question we need to answer about them is: should they be looking to maximize a particular window, or remain competitive for as long as possible over the coming years? Is this going to be their best run at it, at least with the Longoria/Archer/Kiermaier core, or will that come in 2018 or 2019? I think you can make a case either way. I'm higher on their farm system than most (I think), but (again, I think) it's above average no matter whom you ask. Still, will it be good enough to keep pace with Boston and New York (especially the latter) in a couple of years?

Craig Goldstein: As a Dodgers fan, I quibble with the notion that adding Romo resembles a step towards fixing a shaky bullpen.

Rob Mains: I agree with Matt: They're in a really tough spot, playing in the same division as those two behemoths; does that mean your goal every year is the second Wild Card? But that's always been the case. I think there's an argument for going for it in 2017. The problem is exactly how they go for it. They're not really in a position to trade away prospects for guys who get paid a lot; they're last in the majors in attendance by over 100,000.

But they're in a good position now, and they can plausibly claim that they should get better. Wilson Ramos is back and it looks as if they're getting Kevin Kiermaier, Matt Andriese, and Xavier Cedeno next month; Cedeno could really help the bullpen. I don't know that they need to do a lot, given that infusion, other than hope that the clock doesn't strike midnight and Corey Dickerson, Steven Souza, and Logan Morrison turn back into pumpkins.

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