Last week, the Tampa Bay Rays signaled the start of their inevitable re-tool, which baseball fans are accustomed to every few years. Get the most out of the talent you find, ship them out at their peak/as they’re slightly declining, and start it all over again. The New York Yankees are familiar with the process, having fallen victim to it plenty of times.
But this time — THIS TIME! — they might get a win out of it. The first move orchestrated by Tampa was trading Gerrit Cole Killer Ji-Man Choi to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a minor-league pitcher, who will either turn into a Cy Young candidate or a lockdown late-inning reliever.
In 30 plate appearances vs Cole, Choi has hit .417 with a 1.450 OPS, three doubles, three home runs, eight RBI and six walks. Cole’s penchant for getting owned by an unspectacular hitter broke Yankees fans’ brains. It was horrifying to watch.
But the Rays aren’t going to stop there. Per reports, they’re getting ready to unload more talent as they round out their roster in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft.
The Rays, of all teams, always make sure to protect as much young talent as they can because it comes at a cheap price, whereas big spenders like the Yankees and Dodgers are more susceptible to losing potential contributors because they lack the roster space.
Rays dismantling operations and trade Yankee/Gerrit Cole killer Ji-Man Choi
MLB insider Jon Morosi revealed the Rays are “engaged in advanced trade negotiations ahead of Tuesday’s roster projection deadline,” and one of the names that’s been floated is Tyler Glasnow. Though he’s hardly pitched for Tampa since arriving in 2018 (just 50 total starts), that would be a considerable loss.
The Rays, obviously, will quickly rebound, as they always do, inserting no-name, faceless players into premier roles and watching them succeed. But just knowing the Yankees might have a slight break in 2023 as Tampa adjusts with a new set of players is a possibility fans will happily hope for.
Regardless of the projections, the Rays are objectively worse without Choi, Glasnow, Kevin Kiermaier (who had his option declined), and whatever other contributors they eventually lose who played a role in their last four seasons that ended with a playoff berth.
MLBTradeRumors.com noted players such as Yandy Diaz, Ryan Yarbrough and Randy Arozarena could be among the trade casualties given their escalated arbitration salaries for 2023. Not even the Rays would be able to replicate that trio’s production in a single offseason.
With the Red Sox in shambles, the Blue Jays still stuck editing their trailer for the feature-length film, the Orioles still in need of a few high-profile signings to complete their rebuild, and now the Rays pivoting in a drastic way, the Yankees can perhaps take a breath and realize things might not be so bad in 2023.
They just better not bank on their success as a result of their rivals getting worse. They’ve had that attitude the last two years and it’s gotten them nowhere.