Rays undecided about path to take at Trade Deadline

Rays undecided about path to take at Trade Deadline

ST. PETERSBURG -- Major League Baseball's non-waiver Trade Deadline comes to fruition in a week and the only certainty where the Rays are concerned is nobody knows whether they will be buyers or sellers.

The weekend series against the Orioles at Tropicana Field could go a long way toward determining that status.

Based on what has been said and where the team is positioned, if the Rays have a successful homestand, there's a good chance they will be in the market for a piece or two. The hard part would be identifying pieces that could be acquired that could help the team get better.

It doesn't take a baseball genius to recognize that the Rays need offense. Problem is, offense is difficult to come by. Acquiring any player who might give the team an offensive bump would likely cost the Rays too much money and young talent. Thus, if the Rays decide not to be sellers, they will mostly likely remain pat and hope that the August additions of injured players returning from the disabled list -- Asdrubal Cabrera, Desmond Jennings and Drew Smyly -- will be enough to give the team the lift it needs.

Should the Rays get further behind the eight ball during the homestand, there's no telling what the team might consider doing.

Evan Longoria is the team's highest paid player and even though he's not having his best season, he could be a major piece for a contending team. Remember, former No. 1 selection Richie Shaffer is waiting in the wings. Chances are Longoria's offensive numbers would trend up if he finds himself hitting in a more potent lineup.

What if the Rays packaged Longoria with Jake McGee to make a blockbuster trade? The hard-throwing left-hander will likely move into the $5 million range next season. That pair could command even the most coveted prospects from a contender.

The Rays aren't going to trade Chris Archer, Matt Moore or Jake Odorizzi. But what if a contending team wants to make a deal for Erasmo Ramirez or Nathan Karns? Tough left-hander Blake Snell is on the fast track through the Rays' farm system. His development might afford the team the luxury of dealing a starter.

Inside the Rays' clubhouse, players say they are used to any and all speculation. And, they don't feel any extra pressure to play better the week leading up to the trade deadline.

The rumor mill is already churning and will continue to do so right up until the 4 p.m. ET deadline on July 31. Guessing what the Rays will choose to do can drive any baseball fan crazy. But they will be fielding offers and considering any deal to make the team better in the present while also having an eye on the future.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.