December is upon us and the Winter Meetings are coming. In the weeks leading up to December 10, there have been no shortage of trade rumors surrounding the Rays.
Projected to be the teams’ third-highest paid player at $6.5 million in 2018, its no secret that the Rays are entertaining trade offers for Jake Odorizzi. The club will tender an offer prior to tonight’s non-tender deadline, thus owning his rights for the 2018 season.
Tampa Bay, after finishing 2017 with a payroll near $76 million, appears apprehensive about Odorizzi becoming their highest-paid pitcher. Entering his second year of eligibility, Odorizzi projects to receive a $2.4 million raise through arbitration. Coming off the worst year of his career, Tampa Bay may decide to part ways with the former first-round pick.
Given his struggles in 2017, front-office executives may view Odorizzi as a bounce-back candidate that could be acquired without sending much in return. The Minnesota Twins are linked to Odorizzi, and once the Winter Meetings kick off in nine days, there will assuredly be more teams inquiring about his services.
Here’s a list of three possible landing spots if the Rays part ways with Odorizzi.
After a shocking post-season berth last season, the Twins could improve in 2018 given their young core. The return of Phil Hughes (thoracic outlet syndrome) will help the quality of the starting rotation. After all, this is a rotation that called upon 16 different starting pitchers last season. Only the Seattle Mariners (17) used more starters.
Odorizzi would slide in nicely with Hughes, Ervin Santana, and former first-round picks Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson. Three of Minnesota’s top-5 prospects are shortstops, and Nick Gordon is ready now. Unfortunately, Eduardo Escobar, Jorge Polanco, and Brian Dozier are blocking Gordon’s path. Don’t be surprised to see the Twins include an INF in a proposed deal for Odorizzi.
Los Angeles Angels
With so many question marks in the starting rotation, the Angels need to address their pitching needs. The Angels would like to make a run at the playoffs while they have Mike Trout (through 2020) under contract. With Albert Pujols set to make between $27MM-$30MM per year, for the next four years, general manager Billy Eppler has to monitor the payroll situation.
Recently resigned to a 5-year deal that earns him $16 million in 2018 and $28 million in 2022, Justin Upton gives LA a nice one-two punch in the lineup.
They just need to address the rotation.
With first baseman C.J. Cron entering his first year of arbitration, set for a $2.235 million raise, the Angels have a choice to make. They have until 8pm tonight to decide whether they want to tender a contract to the first baseman. Don’t be surprised to see LA tender a contract before the deadline, then look to trade Cron.
With the impending loss of Logan Morrison and Lucas Duda to free agency, three years of control over Cron could be enticing to the Rays. This would allow the Rays to bring up 22-year-old Jake Bauers without forcing him into an everyday role right away.
Another surprising team in 2017, the Brewers will be without SP Jimmy Nelson for much of the year. After labrum surgery on September 20, GM David Stearns confirmed that the righty would miss “a chunk” of 2018.
The Brewers were mentioned as one of the teams interested in acquiring Yu Darvish before the trade deadline. After losing out to the Dodgers, it’s possible that they discuss bringing him in via free agency. Matt Garza is a free agent now and the $12.5MM he was earning can be put towards Darvish.
However, if the Brewers decide that the free-agent market is too rich for them, they may explore trade options. Entering 2018, without Garza, Milwaukee has rotation options of Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Brent Suter, Junior Guerra, Brandon Woodruff, Taylor Jungmann, and Josh Hader. Only Anderson has more-than three years of service time at the MLB level.
Drafted by the Brewers in 2008, a reunion with the organization would make Odorizzi the most experienced arm in the rotation. It would also provide some immediate relief for the loss of Nelson. Then, with the money freed-up by Garza’s departure the club could address other needs via free agency.
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