There's a larger piece to be written about a few teams with incredible numbers of impressive young starting pitchers, but for the moment let's focus on the Rays, who have eight legitimate starters locked in next year ... if they want all of them.
Or maybe six, with two more who could start for the Royals and the Pirates (among many other non-contending clubs). Obviously, David Price and Matt Garza and James Shields and Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis and Jeremy Hellickson are all good enough to start for literally every team in the majors. But there's also Andy Sonnanstine, who's been consigned to the bullpen, but is better than many (and perhaps most) teams' No. 5 starters. Plus there's young Jake McGee, a strikeout machine who gave up three home runs this season in 103 minor-league innings (mostly in Double-A). McGee probably still needs some seasoning, and he's had some health issues. But after this summer he has to figure into the Rays' planning.
So what do they do with all those guys? As Ben Nicholson-Smith suggests, a trade or two is probably in order:
- The Rays have a tremendous amount of starting pitching depth in their organization. Other needs are about to emerge for the team, so it would make sense for them to consider trading Garza and Shields. Both would be sought-after and the Rays would likely have a strong rotation even if they traded one of their more established starters away.
Well, sure. But wouldn't it make sense to consider trading anyone? Garza and Shields are singled out because they're more expensive than the other guys ... but a) that might make them less attractive to other teams, and b) aside from perhaps Price they're the surest bets in the rotation, and when you're trying to win 95-100 games you have to think hard before giving up sure bets.
But they're going to have to give up something, because they're going to have to replace their left fielder and their first baseman, and one of the replacements must bring at least a moderately big bat. Keep an eye on Rays management this winter. As good as they've been these past few years, there's always a new test.