Potential Tampa Bay Rays Bullpen Targets

Rays bullpen
PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 11: Relief pitcher Will Smith #13 of the San Francisco Giants throws a pitch in the eighth inning of the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on September 11, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Darin Wallentine/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Rays were reportedly the runners up for the services of seven-time All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel decided to sign with the Chicago Cubs instead, and now the Rays must look elsewhere for bullpen help. Jose Alvarado should soon return after being away from the team for nearly a month due to personal reasons, but Diego Castillo is now on the injured list with shoulder inflammation after going through some recent struggles.

There’s little doubt that relief pitching is right at the top of Tampa Bay’s trade wish list. Today, let’s take a look at some of the pitchers the Rays will likely be discussing leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.

Potential Tampa Bay Rays Bullpen Targets

Will Smith

Perhaps no other player in baseball is as certain to be dealt by the trade deadline as Will Smith. Smith is a dominant closer on a last-place San Francisco Giants team and will be a free agent after the season. Smith, along with Madison Bumgarner (who could also be of interest to the Rays), is one of San Francisco’s top trade chips.

The 29-year-old lefty has a 2.01 ERA, 2.10 FIP, and 0.77 WHIP in 32 appearances this year. He’s converted all 20 of his save opportunities, and has struck out 47 batters in 31 1/3 innings, good for a rate of 13.50 per nine innings. There will be plenty of interest in Smith, so he won’t come cheaply, even if he’s a rental. He’d be a huge addition to Tampa Bay’s bullpen, though.

Ken Giles

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Like Smith, Ken Giles has been a lights-out closer for a team that isn’t going anywhere this year. Unlike Smith, Giles isn’t eligible for free agency until after next season, but the rebuilding Toronto Blue Jays seem likely to try to cash in on Giles while his value is at its highest.

The 28-year-old right-hander has a 1.33 ERA and 1.07 FIP in 27 appearances this year. He’s converted 12 of his 13 save opportunities while striking out 47 batters in just 27 innings, an absurd rate of 15.67 per nine innings. Given where the Blue Jays are competitively, the Rays being a division rival shouldn’t be much of an obstacle to making a trade. Last season Toronto traded both J.A. Happ and Steve Pearce to division rivals.

Shane Greene

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In Shane Greene we have yet another dominant closer on a non-contending team. Greene has a 0.93 ERA in 29 appearances this season while converting 21 of 22 save opportunities.

Now, there are signs that Greene hasn’t been as terrific as his ERA would suggest. His FIP is 3.56 FIP. He’s benefited from an absurdly low .181 BABIP. His K/9 of 9.00 is solid but not nearly as gaudy as Giles and Smith’s.

While there may be some regression coming, the 30-year-old righty could still be a nice addition to the Rays’ bullpen. Like Giles, he’s not eligible for free agency until after next season, but like the Blue Jays, the Detroit Tigers may look to move Greene while his value is at its peak.

Greg Holland

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The Arizona Diamondbacks have been more competitive than many people expected them to be this season after an offseason where they traded Paul Goldschmidt and lost Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock as free agents. However, as has been the case for most of this decade, the Los Angeles Dodgers are leaving the rest of the National League West in their dust. The Diamondbacks are still in the Wild Card mix and may want to wait to see where they are closer to the deadline before deciding if they’re going to sell, but Greg Holland, a pending free agent, should be available for the right price.

Holland has authored a 2.16 ERA in 26 appearances this year while converting 11 of 13 save opportunities. The 33-year-old righty has been missing bats at a solid rate with a 10.80 K/9, having struck out 30 batters in 25 innings. Like with Greene, there are signs that some regression may be coming for Holland, such as his 3.79 FIP and .189 BABIP. As a pending free agent, Holland may be the cheapest of this group to acquire, though, especially if Arizona struggles over the next month.

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