As I watched Kiké Hernández hit a sac fly to score Danny Santana and send the Boston Red Sox to the ALCS, a couple of things crossed my mind. Some were related to how good the series had been up to that point, even with no starting pitching to speak of. Some had to do with wondering why in the world had the Rays decided to pitch to the hottest hitter on either team instead of setting up a force at home and/or a potential double play. Somewhere around those thoughts, a trade idea came to my head, and I decided to see how viable it could be.
The Tampa Bay Rays are always trying to cut costs. It’s as much a part of their franchise trademark as excellent player development and parades of nameless relievers. They let Charlie Morton go after 2020 despite shaky rotation depth, they traded solid veteran lefty Rich Hill mid-season to save a few bucks, and many more. After seeing their 100-win squad fall flat on its face in the ALDS, the Rays are facing some arbitration raises, and will likely look to cut some payroll yet again. And here’s where the Rockies could come into play. I don’t typically do many of these “fantasy booking” type of pieces, but it’s the offseason in Purple Row already, so why not?
We all know the Rox need position player talent in the worst way, particularly in terms of adding power, patience, and outfield defense. The Rockies finished dead last in MLB with a team wRC+ of 82, and the team has openly talked about adding power. The Rockies also don’t have a lot of big numbers on the payroll for 2022, so there’s room to take on some contracts here. With that being said, my two Rays targets would be Kevin Kiermaier and Brandon Lowe.
Most of you who keep up with baseball on a MLB-wide level will be well aware of what kind of players these two are, but for those of you who don’t, I’ll sum it up quickly. Kiermaier, 31, is an all-time great defensive centerfielder. He can fly, has a cannon, and takes extraordinary routes to the ball. He’s never been much of a hitter (league average at best), but he contributes so much defensively that he’s a significant plus anyway. I don’t think I need to explain why that type of defender would be a huge plus for this team, right? Lowe, a 27-year-old second baseman, is a modern player to the core: he walks, he strikes out, he pulls the ball, and he hits flyballs, all to extreme amounts. He’s slashed .255/.341/.518 (136 OPS+) for his career and is coming off a 39-homer campaign in 2021. Why would the Rays trade him, or Kiermaier for that matter, you ask?
That’s where it gets interesting. The reason Kiermaier is a trade candidate is his contract: he’ll be making $12M in 2022 and the Rays have tons of younger, cheaper options to replace him. Trade rumors have surrounded him for a few offseasons now, but it’s safe to assume that no team has wanted to take on the amount of money he was owed for a glove-first player. Lowe is also going to be getting a raise, making $4M, $5.2M, and $8.7M respectively in ‘22, ‘23 and ‘24. The Rays also have this guy named Wander Franco manning shortstop and Taylor Walls ready to take over at second base for a fraction of what Lowe will be making. I think there may be a deal to be struck here, if the Rockies are willing to take on Kiermaier’s entire contract, which they should.
Of course, the Rockies would need to send something significant back in return for two good players, even if one of the two’s contract (Kiermaier) is a negative asset. So here’s what we’re gonna do: I’ll ask you, the fine reader of this article, to come up with a possible trade for the Rockies to acquire Kiermaier and Lowe, taking on both of their contracts in their entirety (remember that Tampa Bay puts a premium on youth and cheap years of control), and go down to the comments below and write it up.
Oh, you want my trade proposal? Well, having Kiermaier would be really nice, but the price here is Brandon Lowe, who’s a great left-handed power hitter with years of an affordable contract left. I’d give up Vilade, Rolison, and basically any non-Veen prospect the Rays ask for in exchange for those two. Is this trade realistic? Probably not, honestly, but some fantasy trading talk doesn’t hurt, does it?
Germán Márquez breaks down his 2021 season | Rox Pile
A tale of two halves: an ace-like first half that led to an All-Star appearance, and a rough second half where fatigue and sloppy mechanics cause some big time struggles. The final result was still a 3-4 WAR campaign that featured 180 IP, but that final stretch leaves a bitter taste for all, for Márquez more than anyone else.
Rockies’ end-of-season bullpen analysis: Lots of holes to fill, including at closer | Rox Pile ($)
I put this here mainly because all the relievers used in the postseason so far have me thinking about how nice it would be for the Rox to actually be able to develop relief pitching. I have my theories about why that inability seems to exist, but that’s for another time.
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