2021 MLB Trade Deadline Preview: Tampa Bay Rays

2021 MLB Trade Deadline Preview: Tampa Bay Rays

by July 17, 2021 1 comment

However, their roster took a big hit when Tyler Glasnow suffered a season-ending injury. The Rays also traded Willy Adames just to see him flourish in Milwaukee. Evidently, there is room for Tampa Bay to improve its roster ahead of the July 30 trade deadline.

Make sure to check out all of our other Trade Deadline Previews.

Current Position

Record: 53-37
Rank: Second in AL East (1.5 GB)
Status: Buyers

With Glasnow down, starting pitching must be the main area of focus for the Rays. In past years, they have made low-cost moves all around the diamond in hopes that they can build depth and perhaps cash in on one or two breakouts. They should follow the same approach this year, though Tampa Bay may prioritize starting pitching more than usual.

Trade Candidates

Jordan Lyles, Starting Pitcher, Texas Rangers

Starting pitching will be the Rays’ main focus at the deadline, though that can become costly. While the Rangers’ top pitching trade chip is Kyle Gibson, Tampa Bay might be wise to focus on a more affordable option in Jordan Lyles. The 30-year-old has seen frequent involvement in trade rumors but posted a 7.02 ERA in 2020. He has somewhat bounced back this year, going 5-5 with a 4.86 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, and .344 xwOBA through 18 outings. Lyles’s 13.5 percent strikeout rate in 2020 ranked in the bottom four percent of the league, but he brought that number up to 18.2 percent so far this year. As for free passes, he owns a 7.2 percent walk rate, which is the second-lowest mark of his career. He throws either a slider or curveball on nearly half of his pitches and both finish above league average in terms of velocity. Further, his curveball spin ranks in the 74th percentile in all of MLB. Lyles is earning $8 million this year and will hit free agency in a few months.

Tyler Anderson, Starting Pitcher, Pittsburgh Pirates

The Rays and Pirates are no strangers to making trade deadline deals with each other. While Tampa Bay won’t be fleecing Pittsburgh for Chris Archer, they might be able to snag a solid southpaw for cheap. Anderson is 5-8 with a 4.35 WHIP, 1.19 ERA, and .309 xwOBA through 17 starts in 2021. He’s posted a 19.8 percent strikeout rate, which ranks slightly below his career average. However, his 5.9 percent walk rate represents a career-best mark. While the Rays tend to gravitate towards right-handers, there is no doubt that they will look into the Pirates’ solid southpaw. He has 81st-percentile fastball spin this season while his chase rate ranks in the 74th percentile. The 31-year-old is making just $2.5 million this season and will hit free agency in a few months, making him quite the intriguing target for Tampa Bay.

Merrill Kelly, Starting Pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks

Kelly, a 32-year-old right-hander, has been solid for the Diamondbacks this year. His 5-7 record is solid but perhaps unfair considering poor run support could have factored into those seven losses. It would be more than reasonable to argue that Kelly would have a winning record if he pitched on a contending team. In terms of more pitcher-specific stats, the starter owns a 4.46 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and .261 OBA. He has amassed 93 strikeouts, 27 walks, and 15 home runs through 19 starts (109 innings) this year. Further, the Houston native has impressed as of late, going 3-1 with 14 earned runs, eight walks, and 31 strikeouts over his last seven starts. Kelly is earning $4.25 million this season and has a $5.25 million option for 2022 that the Rays would love to exercise.


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Andersen is a teenage sportswriter and reporter whose articles have appeared across the Prime Time Sports Talk, Sports Illustrated Kids, FantasyPros, and SB Nation platforms. He has also received credit from RotoWorld, CBS Sports, ESPN, Bleacher Report, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, The Athletic, SB Nation, NBC Sports, NY Post, and dozens of other sports sites for his reporting work.

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