Yankees should convince Rays to help them with daring trade of slugging first baseman

Come on...be cool...
Tampa Bay Rays v Pittsburgh Pirates
Tampa Bay Rays v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin Berl/GettyImages

Despite losing almost an entire rotation to Tommy John surgery last summer and muddling along aimlessly through mid-June, the Tampa Bay Rays have proven in recent weeks -- yet again -- that they are never, ever out of it.

But, whether they're out of it (they aren't) or not (not is correct), there's one more thing you can always count on in Tampa Bay: they'll entertain moving players, even if no other team in the game would. And they won't care one lick about which team they're collaborating with.

After all, they know that, long-term, they're smarter than whoever they're matched with, even if it's the Yankees.

Nobody thought the Rays would trade their ace, Blake Snell, just because of rising arbitration costs after winning the American League. They did, then went out and won 100 games despite receiving next to nothing from the deal (Luis Patino and Francisco Mejia). Nobody thought Tampa Bay would deal Austin Meadows coming off a 27-homer season in 2021 leading the offense; they didn't blink, and Meadows hasn't homered since. Seriously.

And now, despite reaching .400 and surging somewhat, the Rays and Dodgers were recently connected by Jeff Passan on a Randy Arozarena trade. The Yankees should try to preempt those conversations and engage them on Yandy Diaz, an MVP candidate in 2023 whose advanced metrics indicate he shouldn't be falling quite so far this year. He's also about to turn 33 years old, and is under control through 2025 with a 2026 team option the Rays are likely disinterested in.

Yankees and Rays should collaborate on dream Yandy Diaz trade

What do the Yankees have to offer the Rays? Shortstop Roderick Arias, almost certainly. Tommy John rehabber Everson Pereira, perhaps. Young pitcher Henry Lalane, who most agree has top-100 pedigree if he can just ... get healthy and show up? Sigh, almost definitely. Two additional pitchers the Yankees aren't really prioritizing right now, but the Rays are confident they can snidely turn into productive big-leaguers? Yup. It's a three- or four-player package, but the Yankees should grin and bear it, if the Rays are willing, well aware it could bite them down the line.

Look. We understand this is bold. We understand talking to the Rays is a losing long-term gambit, even if you think you're winning. But Diaz is too good to ignore. Everything about his 2024 profile indicates he's still mashing the baseball, and the surface numbers are beginning to follow (.337 with an .859 OPS in June). Neither lefties nor righties bother him much (career .777 OPS against right-handers, an exceptional .875 mark against lefties, who've been killing the Yankees all year). Some may prefer Isaac Paredes, and it's hard to say no to any potential slugger at a corner infield position. Paredes is 25, controllable for far longer, and making a relative pittance, though. The Rays are wild. They're not that wild.

Diaz, though, is aging out of his uniform at the Trop, and the Rays have surely scouted the Yankees' system closely enough to have a few personal favorites with obscured future value. Let's make a deal, and we'll somehow see you in the ALDS anyway.