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Rays Roster Crunch [Guardians as well]


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The Rays annual roster crunch is bearing down. They currently have only 6 free agents on their 40-man roster while they also have an incredible 10 players on the 60-day IL (that will soon count towards their 40-man this off-season) and more than 60 prospects that will be Rule 5 draft eligible this December including several among their organizational top 30 prospects (in a very good system). As they’ve shown in past off-seasons, they’re typically willing to deal from either their major league core or prospects ready for the majors (some recent examples include Nick Solak, Jake Cronenworth, Nate Lowe, and Blake Snell).

 

The Rays could be motivated once again to move medium-to-big names as they trim their 40-man roster. I wonder if they might consider trading Austin Meadows for a prospect return, or post-hype prospects such as Brent Honeywell or Brendan McKay? Regarding Meadows, the Rays have prospect Josh Lowe waiting in the wings to take over an outfield position. There are plenty of other intriguing options up and down their roster as well. Their system is so stacked that they should be able to plug any holes they create via trade.

 

Any targets that would fit the Brewers well?

Not just “at Night” anymore.
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From the major league team I think Meadows and Margot make sense.

 

Prospect wise I think Mead would be the best player the Brewers could get. He skipped AA this year and went from A+ to AAA and is currently playing in the AZFL. So possibly someone to stick at 3B in AA or AAA for the Brewers where they lack a lot of depth. I am not sure who the Rays would want back in return for Mead.

 

For Meadows I think either Feliciano or Warren would be enough value wise. I think the Rays would rather get something like Uribe, Valerio and Mendez instead of a one for one type of a trade. I really want to get Mead from the Rays and would love to have him in the Brewers organization as I think he will be one of those under the radar type of prospects who just produces at 3B. He probably won't be fully ready until 2024 but at least the Brewers will have a 3B prospect in the upper minors.

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I can't figure out MLBTradeValue's number on Austin Meadows. Over the last 3 years he's averaged 2.1 bWAR/fWAR per season. MLB Trade Rumors has him with a 4.3 arbitration estimate for next year. MLBTradeValue has him as having a surplus value of +6.5 million. So let's say he earns 4.3 + 6.0 + 7.25 in his three years of arbitration (obviously won't be tearing it up and earning much higher salaries with such a low surplus value). So that's 4.3 + 6.0 + 7.25 in money then plus another +6.5 in surplus value = 24.05 million / 9 million per win = 2.7 wins total over 3 seasons. So they are valuing him as an annual 0.9 WAR player as a 26 year old who, so far, has been more than twice as good as that.

 

I think their number on him is way low. I'd put his surplus value number in the high 20's.

 

I do think the one very legitimate argument that pushes his value down is that he has proven to be a terrible right fielder and is probably limited to left field from this point forward. He's a bad fit for Milwaukee as he probably is a left fielder exclusively and the Brewers have one of those locked in for the next 7 years. Doesn't help that Stearns seems to place value on outfield defense. But Meadows has been a .256/.334/.493/.828 hitter since the start of 2019. Hard for me to see him playing down to the level of a sub 1 WAR player over the next 3 seasons. Maybe they are expecting an Andrew Benintendi type falloff in terms of value, but Benintendi just had a solid season for the Royals (2.4 bWAR, 2.1 fWAR).

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I assume the Rays would want either MLB starters (bench filled with their youth I assume) or minor leaguers that will not need to be protected on the 40 man, so guys like Feliciano may not have as much value, unless they slot him as backup catcher.
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Don't think he's really a fit with the Brewers, but Brandon Lowe could be somebody the Rays try to move this offseason. He's posted 10.9 WAR over 1,314 career PAs with a 136 OPS+ while playing mostly 2B with a little OF sprinkled in. Also signed to a nice extension paying him 18 million over the next three years with 10.5/11.5 million team options for 2025/26.

 

The rub is he's now at 120 postseason PAs with a 115/167/257 triple slash & 47 strikeouts. Ouch.

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I can see the Rays churning alot of their bullpen arms this offseason in hopes to pick up a bunch of lottery ticket guys to stash and develop in their low minors who are years away from 40 man roster consideration. I doubt they get too crazy with just jettisoning quality MLB position players.

 

The Rays would actually be in a pinch if issues with the new CBA negotiations lead to roster management uncertainty late into the offseason, and they get forced into making a bunch of moves up against a tight schedule - frankly if other organizations stopped being so willing to send their green prospects that don't instantly need to be 40-man roster protected in trades with the Rays, Tampa would wind up losing a bunch of MLB-caliber talent for nothing in return because their system is to the point of being too deep - almost like their payroll frugalness works against them at this point because they don't have the financial means to take on big salary via trade for premier veteran talent.

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Cleveland is another team facing a roster crunch ahead of the 40 man deadline on 11/19/21.

 

I already listed INF Jose Tena in another thread as a trade target (b4 he ends up in the ChiCubs system). Here are some others:

 

OF Oscar Gonzalez (fits better as a DH which will happen with the next CBA)

OF Will Benson

INF Jose Fermin

LHP Adam Scott

LHP Joey Cantillo

LHP Konnor Pilkington

 

LHP Sam Hentges

LHP Logan S Allen

RHP JC Mejia

RHP Carlos Vargas

INF Yu Chang

INF Owen Miller

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Don't think he's really a fit with the Brewers, but Brandon Lowe could be somebody the Rays try to move this offseason. He's posted 10.9 WAR over 1,314 career PAs with a 136 OPS+ while playing mostly 2B with a little OF sprinkled in. Also signed to a nice extension paying him 18 million over the next three years with 10.5/11.5 million team options for 2025/26.

 

The rub is he's now at 120 postseason PAs with a 115/167/257 triple slash & 47 strikeouts. Ouch.

 

I’ve thought of him as a possible trade target also. His limited OF work doesn’t look very good so I wonder if he would be viewed as a realistic OF going forward.

 

I think Kiermeier and Margot are the most likely Rays to go. Neither make a lot of sense for the Brewers

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Assuming that Garcia declines his option, the best fit is going to be a young-ish OF who can play RF next year or be ready to step in in 2023 when Cain, Garcia, and likely JBJ will be gone. Maybe a 2B to step in in 2023 for Wong, but the Brewers have plenty of IF depth coming up in the minors. Because of that, I don't think the Rays are a good partner. Maybe Jordan Luplow as a backup OF/1B who can spell Tellez against tough LHP; he's under control through 2024. Not the big bat they need, but probably not an expensive acquisition either.

 

Maybe they need another bullpen arm. Reacquire Feyereisen?

 

I don't think that Brandon Lowe is out of the question if they think he can play RF for a year, then move back to 2B in 2023. But he hits LH and they could probably use a RHH to replace Garcia. They have enough LHH between Yelich, Tellez, Narvaez, and Wong.

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Here are the Rays current Top 30 Prospects according to Baseball America that are currently Rule 5 eligible (unless they get added to the 40-man roster)…

 

#15 Blake Hunt C

#18 Tommy Romero RHP

#23 Jacob Lopez LHP

#24 Tobias Myers RHP

#27 Miles Mastrobuoni UT/SS

#28 Jonathan Aranda 1B/2B/3B

#29 Ruben Cardenas OF

Not just “at Night” anymore.
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Here are the Rays current Top 30 Prospects according to Baseball America that are currently Rule 5 eligible (unless they get added to the 40-man roster)…

 

#15 Blake Hunt C

#18 Tommy Romero RHP

#23 Jacob Lopez LHP

#24 Tobias Myers RHP

#27 Miles Mastrobuoni UT/SS

#28 Jonathan Aranda 1B/2B/3B

#29 Ruben Cardenas OF

 

Here are the Cleveland prospects in the same boat (from the same source: Baseball America)

#1 Tyler Freeman SS

#4 George Valera OF

#7 Brayan Rocchio SS

#16 Richie Palacios 2B/OF

#18 Joey Cantillo LHP

#19 Jose Tena INF

#20 Aaron Bracho 2B

#22 Bryan Lavastida C

#25 Jhonkensey Noel 1B/3B

#29 Oscar Gonzalez OF

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I agree that it’s a roster crunch but I don’t think it’s as dire as fans think. They can get the critical guys rostered and the bulk of the guys won’t be selected because of the onerous rules for taking somebody in Rule 5. Some of those names might be good names, but it is rare for A ball player to then sit on a MLB roster. It could happen, but it’s not an everyday occurrence. Will they lose a guy? Probably, but it’s not like they’d lose 3-4.
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I agree that it’s a roster crunch but I don’t think it’s as dire as fans think.

Yeah, to be clear I don’t think the Rays are in any dire situation, and MadThinker brought up an even better example of a team facing a roster crunch in Cleveland. Where I was coming from is that the next few months of the offseason are likely to be very boring while the new CBA [hopefully] gets sorted out. Here are some cases where teams like Tampa Bay and Cleveland will have to make some sort of roster churning moves over the next 6 weeks, even if it’s just trading away players from the fringes of their 40-man roster. Both teams have intriguing players that could be on the move as they make room to protect a few prospects and trim their rosters. Remember, the Rays need to trim several players (~4-5) just to get to 40 before they even worry about who to protect.

 

The following players appear to be among the most likely to be considered “moveable” for each team before the Rule 5 draft…

 

Cleveland: Players MadThinker mentioned earlier as well as possibly Daniel Johnson, Bradley Zimmer, Harold Ramirez, Ernie Clement (MadThinker please correct me if I’m wrong on these possibilities)

 

Tampa Bay: Brendan McKay, Jordan Luplow, Mike Brosseau, Brett Phillips, Louis Head, Ryan Sherriff, Chris Mazza, Jalen Beeks (and a bunch of other relievers)

 

Obviously it won’t be all of those players, and maybe it’s very few of them. The teams could certainly decide to move other players, but one assurance is that each team is going to have to make moves of some kind at the beginning of the offseason.

Not just “at Night” anymore.
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One specific position the Rays might be looking to deal from is catcher where they have Mike Zunino, Francisco Mejia, René Pinto, Blake Hunt, and may need to add Proctor Ford to their 40-man roster in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.

 

On the flip side the Brewers entered last season with a 40-man roster filled with catchers (I believe 6 at one point), but now with Piña being a free agent are down to just 3 catchers (Narvaez, Maile, and Feliciano). I wonder if the Brewers will trust Feliciano as their 3rd catcher (and Maile as their 2nd catcher for that matter), or if they’ll look to add catching depth behind Narvaez. I sort of assume they will add a catcher this off-season, but I won’t be shocked if they don’t attempt to re-sign Piña [sorry PinaMadness].

Not just “at Night” anymore.
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  • 4 weeks later...
Reminder that tomorrow [Friday] is the deadline for teams to add Rule 5 eligible players to their 40-man roster. Somewhat surprised the Guardians haven’t made any trades yet, but it seems like a near guarantee they’ll make some moves over the next 36 hours.

 

TBH I am a little worried that the initial sale of new team merchandise (begins Friday 11/19/21 at 9 am) is going to be used as smoke/ cover for NOT getting something finalized...

 

FYI - Now that I am back at work (started new job today 11/18/21) I will be slow to hear/ delayed in any response to a move/ lack of moves made.

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Brewer Fanatic Contributor

If our strategy is to make some bargain basement claims from amongst the players being DFA'd today, then we may be looking at guys like:

- RHP J.C. Mejia - 25 - DFA'd by Guardians - solid in minors from 2014-2019 (up to High-A ball), then struggled in big 2021 leap to AAA/MLB

- LHP Kyle Nelson - 25 - DFA'd by Guardians - solid in minors from 2015-2019 (up to AAA), then struggled in 2021 in AAA/MLB

- RHH OF Clint Frazier - 27 - DFA'd by Yankees - 104 OPS+ in 807 PAs across 5 MLB seasons, though struggled this year

 

...though we'd be slated at the tail end of the waiver claims (full AL, then 12 NL teams before us for these 3 players).

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If our strategy is to make some bargain basement claims from amongst the players being DFA'd today, then we may be looking at guys like:

- RHP J.C. Mejia - 25 - DFA'd by Guardians - solid in minors from 2014-2019 (up to High-A ball), then struggled in big 2021 leap to AAA/MLB

- LHP Kyle Nelson - 25 - DFA'd by Guardians - solid in minors from 2015-2019 (up to AAA), then struggled in 2021 in AAA/MLB

- RHH OF Clint Frazier - 27 - DFA'd by Yankees - 104 OPS+ in 807 PAs across 5 MLB seasons, though struggled this year

 

...though we'd be slated at the tail end of the waiver claims (full AL, then 12 NL teams before us for these 3 players).

 

A couple of info pieces related to the listed players above:

 

JC Mejia is out of options unless granted a 4th option by MLB. IF he was getting that 4th option there is a good chance he would not have been DFA'd today (in favor of another out of options player Oscar Mercado/ Bradley Zimmer)..

 

Kyle Nelson has IIRC only 1 option remaining (burning options in 2020 & 2021). While he had a good track record coming thru the minors he never really put it together at the MLB level. If a change of scenery helps him move forward I would be happy for him but I would not count on it.

 

Clint Frazier was DFA's by NY Yankees due to his health issues. IIRC his multiple concussions produced a vertigo issue for him. Personally I hope Clint gets healthy & turns it around. Time will tell us how it goes...

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Clint Frazier seemed like the quintessential change-of-scenery guy prior to his health issues. I'd love to take a flier on him, though if the Yankees are dumping him so soon (quite amazing given his hype coming into 2021) that does not bode well for his health.
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Clint Frazier seemed like the quintessential change-of-scenery guy prior to his health issues. I'd love to take a flier on him, though if the Yankees are dumping him so soon (quite amazing given his hype coming into 2021) that does not bode well for his health.

 

He has stated his defense has suffered because of the concussion. He maybe a DH only player. I haven't been sold on him for awhile now and I am still not sold on him. If he would sign a minor league deal with an invite to spring training sure that would be ok. Anything more than that no thanks.

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Brewer Fanatic Contributor
If our strategy is to make some bargain basement claims from amongst the players being DFA'd today, then we may be looking at guys like:

- RHP J.C. Mejia - 25 - DFA'd by Guardians - solid in minors from 2014-2019 (up to High-A ball), then struggled in big 2021 leap to AAA/MLB

- LHP Kyle Nelson - 25 - DFA'd by Guardians - solid in minors from 2015-2019 (up to AAA), then struggled in 2021 in AAA/MLB

- RHH OF Clint Frazier - 27 - DFA'd by Yankees - 104 OPS+ in 807 PAs across 5 MLB seasons, though struggled this year

 

Holy mackerel, I got one right. We’ve traded for J.C. Mejia. Time to play the lotto.

 

I should mention that MadThinker88 had also mentioned J.C. Mejia earlier up the thread as part of the Guardians’ roster crunch.

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Brewer Fanatic Contributor
Just putting this out there now...

 

CLE Guardians have about a dozen guys for next years R5 to closely watch during the 2022 season (6 of them were on the organization's BA top 40 list for the 2021 season).

 

The roster crunch in CLE continues...

 

Very interesting. Please keep us posted. As always, this is great offseason 'intel'!

Joey Wiemer is my Spirit Animal
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