Assuming Tyler Glasnow's departure, look at the Rays rotation on paper. What do you see? Emptiness? A core of mid-tier arms missing an ace? Five fours? Unfortunately, with years of mounting evidence to the contrary, your eyes have deceived you. You see a mess. The Rays see clay. And they usually tend to mold arms in their vision and get their way, resulting surgeries be damned.
Even with Glasnow likely gone to Los Angeles, and Drew Rasmussen and Jeffrey Springs on the shelf for 2024, the Rays still plan to throw out Zach Eflin, Aaron Civale, Shane Baz and Zack Littell. Eflin received Cy Young votes in '23. Civale was a late-arriving difference-maker last summer. Baz has top prospect pedigree.
And then there's the rumored Glasnow return: Ryan Pepiot of the Dodgers, who comes armed with five years of control to Glasnow's one. The pitcher the Rays are reportedly shipping westward has crossed 100 innings in a season once since 2018 (last year, 120). He collapsed in the playoffs.
The pitcher the Rays are reportedly receiving, at approximately a $24 million discount? He does this.
Yankees fans should realize Ryan Pepiot means more to Rays than Tyler Glasnow
The Rays might take steps back on paper, but not in reality. They're not going to be anyone's trendy World Series pick entering 2024, but they're also not going anywhere.
And heaven help you if the rumors of the Dodgers trade expanding to include Michael Busch become reality. Busch, the Dodgers' Minor League Player of the Year and PCL MVP in 2023, has a left-handed stroke built for Brandon Lowe's tutelage.
You can discount the Rays if you would like. You could doomsay for the 12th straight year in hopes of securing bragging rights when you're finally correct. And, yes, no matter how much the Rays prosper in the years to come, it's still quite embarrassing that their entire franchise ethos revolves around burning and churning players when they reach normal levels of expensive, then refusing to recede from the playoff picture. And don't forget about devaluing starters by inventing the opener! They've got a whole stable of union busters out in that bullpen.
But if there's one thing they should be trusted on, it's targeting controllable pitching assets. Glasnow was a goner long before 2023 wrapped. He's also been an electric expectations-misser more often than he's been an ace. Vindictive fans should be rooting for him to finish the year in Tampa -- or, at least, however much of the year he can manage before he breaks down. They should not be victory lapping his departure, especially with a top-tier arm like Pepiot heading in the other direction. This is what they do.