It looks like the Tampa Bay Rays are going to trade pitcher Wade Davis.
And this should make Yankees and Red Sox fans soil themselves.
Normally it isn’t wise to deal a 25 year old pitcher with playoff experience who is not eligible for free agency until 2016.
But that’s what makes this brilliant.
Since the start of the 2008 season the Rays have matched the Yankees in playoff appearances, Division Titles and pennants.
They have exceeded the Red Sox in all of those counts.
And while the Yankees try to make sense of their pitching staff and aging roster and the Red Sox are looking at a team at the cross roads, the Rays could get better.
After 2010, they shed payroll, let key free agents go and picked 10 of the first 60 players chosen in the draft, including four pitchers.
They dealt Matt Garza to the Cubs and got a crap load of young players including starting outfielder Sam Fuld and Hak-Ju Lee, their shortstop of the future. They dealt Jason Bartlett to the Padres and got Brandon Gomes, Adam Russell and Cesar Ramos, all who were solid relievers for Tampa.
In other words, they know how to get value in their trades.
Right now the Rays could use a corner outfielder or a DH plus a catcher.
And what better piece of trade bait could there be than a pitcher?
A young talented pitcher with big league experience, playoff baseball under his belt and a reasonable price tag in terms of salary?
And take a look at the Tampa Bay pitching staff.
David Price is solid and is still only 25 years old.
James Shields is the Old Man River of this team at 30.
Jeremy Hellickson is 25.
Jeff Niemann is positively ancient at 29.
Relievers Gomes, Russell and Ramos are all under 30.
10 talented pitchers all 30 or under on a team that has made the playoffs 3 of the past 4 seasons?
And that DOESN’T include Wade Davis who will turn 26 next season and is signed through 2014 and under team control until 2016.
Now take a look at this off season. Which team needs pitching?
The Red Sox.
The Blue Jays.
That’s 17 teams off the top of my head who should probably be thinking about upgrading their pitching staff if they want a realistic shot at a playoff run in 2012.
Now with CC Sabathia off of the market, who is available via free agency?
C. J. Wilson? As I wrote before, he’s a flop waiting to happen.
Mark Buehrle? He’s probably going back to the White Sox. Besides as wonderful as Buehrle’s career has been, is it wise to sign someone who is entering their mid 30s to an expensive long term contract?
Yu Darvish? Hisashi Iwakuma? Sorry. After seeing Dice-K break down, I will believe it when I see it.
Roy Oswalt? Mid 30s. On the decline. Will be expensive and cost picks. No thank you.
Hiroki Kuroda? He is talented but at age 37 is also a big risk.
Edwin Jackson? A nice #4 starter but hardly a difference maker.
Javier Vazquez? I wouldn’t touch him with a cattle prod.
Eric Bedard? Joel Pineiro? Paul Maholm? Rich Harden? Jason Marquis? Sure they are all talented and all injury risks who may have their best days behind them.
Which one of those pitchers would you want over Wade Davis?
Especially at his current controlled salary?
So they could play a few teams off of each other.
So let’s review:
A team with a lot of playoff experience and talent to spare and a smart front office who can make shrewd moves need to trade for a bat or 2 and have a young, inexpensive, talented, big league and playoff tested starting pitcher to trade who could be the best arm available.
If a team has a surplus of young outfielders and a young catcher it would behoove them to deal both to the Rays to improve their staff.
Meanwhile the Rays would go into 2012 with a deep rotation, nice bullpen and a new bat or two to go along with Longoria, Upton et al.
And the Yankees will throw money at the latest flavor of the month and the Red Sox will wander the woods hoping that fans still have their 2004 and 2007 DVDs.
I’ll say it here and now… the Rays are going to win the 2012 AL East.