The St. Louis Cardinals desire at least one asset from the Tampa Bay Rays. The San Francisco Giants desire one as well. Is there a way for all three teams to come together to create a beneficial outcome for each? I think so.
The St. Louis Cardinals have been crystal clear about their desire for a quality closer. While other options, notably Wade Davis, are out there, the Cards have reportedly had their sights set on the Rays’ Alex Colome.
Colome has had three pretty full years now with the Rays, and the results have been anywhere from decent to exceptional. As both a starter and reliever in 2015, he was, shall we say, average. But in 2016, he had a lights-out turn as the Rays’ closer, with 47 saves, and followed it with a very decent, 27-save campaign in 2017.
The dollars are right for Colome, with three seasons of team control left through his arbitration period (as opposed to, say, Davis, who is projected by at least one publication for a four-year, $60 million contract). And while there’s debate about what it might take to land him, it seems like a Cards outfielder and pitching prospect might do the trick. Say, for instance, Randal Grichuk and Dakota Hudson.
Those are nicely controlled players for the Rays, with Grichuk now also entering his first arbitration year and Hudson having his full six years of major-league control left. On the face of it, a reasonable deal, yes?
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But the Rays are being stalked by other teams, not only for Colome, but for excellent starter Chris Archer and third baseman Evan Longoria. The Archer contract is considered favorable at about $33 million over four years, and an asset that can bring a nice return to Tampa. The Longoria deal, however, sits at about $80 million over five years, taking Evan well into his mid-30s, and is no bargain given his decline from superstar to above-average corner infielder.
Enter the Giants, who covet Longoria, and are likely willing to surrender a couple decent minor leaguers for him. While San Francisco has the prospects that it would have dealt for Giancarlo Stanton, the team isn’t considered to have a particularly deep or strong stable of minor leaguers, with a couple exceptions.
For Longoria alone, however, taking that amount of salary off the Rays hands would not require a fantastic load.
And the Giants are known to have some interest in ditching the contracts of either or both of Hunter Pence and Denard Span. But the Rays are the last place interested in taking on salary at this point (well, maybe not the absolute last, but you get my point).
So the Cardinals could actually serve a pretty useful role to the Giants, if they are inclined to have Longoria on a competing National League team. For me, I’m perfectly happy to see Longoria in the NL West beating up on the Dodgers and the rest. No worries there.
What the Redbirds could do is to eat the salary of one of the Giants outfielders. But why would we do that when we have a glut, you say?
Well, because we would ship Grichuk off to Tampa, take on, say, a Span as a backup outfielder for a year with his relatively normal ($11 million) salary, and we’d be none the worse if the likes of Harrison Bader and friends are not able to fill a solid fourth outfielder spot. Or alternatively, if the Cards wanted both Bader and Span as backups, they could then go lighter on reserve infielders.
The point is, taking one of SF’s outfielders would not be an undue burden, and it might shake loose the Rays tree by them now knowing they could accomplish deals for two of the three guys teams are mostly targeting. Archer (or for a lesser price, Jake Odorizzi) could be dealt separately and probably for very decent value.
Three-ways are a complicated endeavors these days, with such crazy salary structures and teams being extremely careful about dealing away protectible prospects. But the Cards could remain ripe with strong minor leaguers after such a deal.
Having only lost Sandy Alcantara among their premium pitching prospects, even the loss of a Hudson-type player would be worth the obvious benefit of so strongly solidifying the back of their bullpen for three more years.
Is it likely to see this kind of deal? Probably not. But it’s at least a reasonable proposition and one that could benefit three teams and give them the assets they need to compete or, in the Rays’ case, rebuild, in the next couple years.