Although they posted a solid 80-82 record this season, the Tampa Bay Rays could be big sellers this winter.
The Rays, perennial owners of one of baseball's lowest payrolls, have several key players that are due for raises in 2016. As a result, a few names on Tampa Bay's roster have begun to be floated around as potential trade fodder for other teams.
Tampa Bay already dealt Nathan Karns to the Seattle Mariners but could still trade another starter, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Drew Smyly and Matt Moore would be the most likely candidates, per Topkin, as the two are both set to earn significant raises (Moore is due $5 million in 2016, Smyly could earn around $4 million after arbitration).
Also in the mix for trades is back-end bullpen tandem Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger. McGee's salary is projected to jump to nearly $5 million this offseason, making him more likely to be dealt than Boxberger, who has yet to reach arbitration. Topkin writes that the Rays don't seem motivated to move either, however, an enticing return could push them toward making a deal. McGee and Boxberger have already drawn considerable interest from teams, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals and Arizona Diamondbacks, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets.
Another name the Rays may look to move this offseason is first baseman James Loney, who is set to make $8 million in 2016. Tampa Bay could be willing to eat some of that salary to facilitate a deal, according to Topkin.
Here are a few other rumors making their way around the majors today:
Todd Frazier: Will the Cincinnati Reds deal their prized third baseman this offseason? Jayson Stark of ESPN.com tweets that an executive from a team that has talked to the Reds is convinced Frazier is on the table, however, the return would need to be huge. Such isn't a surprise, as the 29-year-old is coming off a career year, won't make much in 2016 ($7.5 million) and is a fan favorite in Cincinnati. Buster Olney of ESPN.com opines that the Reds should trade Frazier, and others, now in order to have a better shot at contending in the future.
Ben Zobrist: Among the most coveted names on the market, Zobrist has been linked to many teams this offseason, including the New York Yankees and New York Mets. However, one of those teams may not be willing to pay up for the 34-year-old. According to Dan Martin and Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, the Mets "figure to make a strong push for Zobrist," while the Yankees may not get involved at all. Martin and Davidoff cite industry sources that say the Yanks aren't willing to spend as much as Zobrist will likely receive. Of course, this is the Yankees we're talking about. If the Yankees truly feel Zobrist gives them the best chance to win next season, expect them to be in the mix regardless of money.
Brandon Crawford: The San Francisco Giants are interested in signing Crawford to an extension this offseason, Olney also reports, citing sources. Crawford, an All-Star and Gold Glove winner this year, will be 29 at the start of the 2016 season, meaning his best production could still be ahead of him. The shortstop hit .256 with 21 homers and 84 RBIs this season.
Dodgers: The Dodgers will look to cut their payroll to about $200 million in 2016, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes. Co-owner Todd Boehly spoke with Shaikin on the matter, saying that a $300 million payroll, like the team had this season, is nearly impossible to keep up. "We're looking toward building something long-term, and sustainable," Boehly said. Of course, the Dodgers doing such would have huge ramifications on how this offseason unfolds. Currently, the team's payroll is around $189 million for next season, as Shaikin notes. And that's without right-hander Zack Greinke re-signed. The Dodgers figure to still be in the mix for Greinke or another top starter, but the team may need to pursue other options if payroll is truly set to become a big issue.
Baltimore Orioles: While the Dodgers look to trim payroll, the Orioles may need to increase theirs in order to fill all their needs this offseason, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com writes. With Matt Wieters accepting his qualifying offer and arbitration for several key players coming up this winter, the O's could have over $90 million locked into deals before factoring in league-minimum players or the holes the team needs to fill, Melewski notes. Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told ESPN.com's Jim Bowden this weekend that the team has the resources to re-sign Chris Davis and land a top starter in free agency.