We’re all waiting for rumors about something, ANYTHING that the Phillies might be working on. We’ve been discussing, searching, hypothesizing, and podcasting about all of the trade possibilities that can be made by Matt Klentak and company. As the clock ticks closer to the trade deadline, we’re beginning to see some evidence that the team is really working the phones. Here’s the latest rumor, from mlb.com writer Mark Feinsand:
Source: Phillies doing heavy scouting of Rays system. TB interested in Pat Neshek. Rays have been scouring entire relief pitching market.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 22, 2017
So the Tampa Bay Rays are pretty interested in Pat Neshek, and that makes a ton of sense. Entering Sunday’s game, as a collective group, their relievers’ ERA sits at 4.35, 20th in MLB. They’ve blown 16 saves as a unit, which is near the bottom of the league. It’s quite apparent that they are on the lookout for relief help, as they’ve added numerous relievers of late on major league deals, minor league deals, and trades including Sergio Romo and Chaz Roe. Looking at those two names, you can see why the team would be interested in Neshek. They’ve also been linked to other names on the trade market as well, like Justin Wilson, AJ Ramos and Tony Watson. Basically, if there is a relief arm that could be of help to the Tampa franchise, their front office has discussed them.
The Tampa Bay Rays would qualify as a mild surprise in the American League this season. They didn’t seem to be a team many thought would push for a playoff spot, yet here they are, only 3.5 games out of the division lead in the AL East, hardly insurmountable. They’re also tied with Kansas City for the second wild card spot, only a game in front of Minnesota, two in front of Los Angeles. It should come as no surprise that the Rays would be hunting for relief help either. Offensively, they have a .325 wOBA and 105 wRC+, just outside of the upper third in baseball. Their starters have a combined 3.94 ERA, 6th in baseball and have been relatively healthy, so the glaring weakness, if you can call it that, is the relief corps.
What do the Rays have to offer? Well, just scanning their top prospects list on MLB Pipeline, you can pretty much rule out the top eight names there, as they seem to be long term players with team. As with pretty much any offer for Neshek that comes from opposing teams, no one will be giving up their best prospects for a rental arm like Pat, so it’s probably best to focus on names in the #9-15 range. That’s if a team is trying to trade only one prospect. If they want to trade two or more, it’s best to look at multiple names further down the list. While that might not seem like much of a return for an arm as dominant as Neshek has been, remember: his lack of team control is something an acquiring team will not be paying top dollar for.
Make no mistake, though. The Rays and Phillies match up very well as trade partners. There is a clear desire to improve that area of their team from Tampa Bay’s standpoint, while the Phillies possess one of the top two remaining relievers on the market (the other being Brad Hand). It’ll be exciting to see if they can finally match up and consummate a deal.