Operation Offseason Improvement: Pitching Trade Partners Part Three


So far this week we’ve looked at the Seattle Mariners and Atlanta Braves organizations pitching. In the final installment of this series we take a look at probably the best option the Royals could have as a trade partner in their search for young pitching the Tampa Bay Rays.

A lot has been written about these two teams making a move with one another at some point this offseason so let’s examine.

Could Jeremy Hellickson be part of a potential deal between the Rays and Royals? Photo Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Tampa Bay Rays –

Tampa Bay went from 100 loss franchise to playoff team in 2008 when they made the World Series. Since then, the team has made the playoffs by winning the challenging AL East while winning another wildcard berth. Three playoff appearances in five seasons in baseball’s toughest division with the restrictions they face must be maddening for Royals fans.

While the Rays have done much of this with good pitching they could use another bat to go with Evan Longoria who just re-upped with the team. So who are the pitchers that Dayton Moore should think about trading a top hitter for? Well let’s look at the embarrassment of riches known as the Tampa Bay Rays pitching depth.

The Trade Targets –

James Shields, RHP: He’s been the popular name attached to Kansas City recently and while he’d be a good addition while he’d be a good addition, he’s only under control for two more years which limits his value. Since 2007 Shields has won ten plus games each year with 2011 being his best going 16-12 with an 2.82 ERA plus a All-Star selection and finishing third in the AL Cy Young voting. Another thing to look at is his ability to eat innings having thrown an average of 221 innings since 2007.

Jeremy Hellickson, RHP: The 2011 AL Rookie of the Year needs to be in all conversations that GMDM has with the Rays. In that season while the win/loss record was 13-10 his ERA was 2.95 in 189 innings pitched with 117 strikeouts and 72 walks. Last season his numbers came back to the pack a little bit, hopefully last season was just a bump in the road.

Alex Cobb, RHP: Like Hellickson he’s 25 years old but has spent most of the last two years in the minors making 23 starts in Tampa Bay. He did go 11-9 in the majors last year throwing 136.1 innings with two complete games and a shutout while striking out 106 with only 40 walks. In triple-A Durham he threw 41.1 innings going 1-4 in eight starts but did K 44 to 18 walks. Cobb is another that KC needs to have in any conversation given his age and early success.

Chris Archer, RHP: Tampa Bay is stocked with right-handed pitchers who are 25 years old and under like Archer who is 24 years old, he’ll be 25 next September. Last season he was a September call-up appearing in six games going 1-3 in 29.1 innings striking out 36 with 13 walks with a 4.60 ERA. Most of 2012 was spent in triple-A which he made 25 starts with a 7-9 record, 3.66 ERA throwing 128 innings and 139 strikeouts, walking 62. Archer projects well and has always been well-regarded, and would look great in Royal blue.

David Price, LHP: Before you say the Rays would never trade the reigning AL Cy Young winner and three-time All-Star and the Rays probably would listen to offers. Coming off of his award-winning year, he’d probably command the best return in baseball. In 2008 he was a part of the World Series team as a late season call-up and since 2009 he’s won 10 plus games with a 19 and 20 win season. Last year on the way to being named ALCY he went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA in 211 innings in addition to 205 Ks walking just 59. Any deal for Price probably would include Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas or Wil Myers which while it hurt he’s not a free agent until 2016.

Matt Moore, LHP: The youngest name on the list at 23 years old, Moore played the David Price 2008 role showing up late in the season and helping the team make the playoffs. Last year he started 31 games going 11-11 with a 3.81 ERA in 177.1 innings. He struck out 175 with 81 walks in 2012 which I’m sure the organization wants him to improve upon in 2013. While there is only a 34 game sample size, but he was ranked number two by Baseball America going into 2012. Moore is signed through 2016 ($14 million) with team options through 2017-19, arbitration eligible in 2017 but could hit the free agent market in 2018. So the club control is attractive for the Royals if they can get him in a trade but will also make it harder to land him due to this.