3 Biggest Team Needs for the Tampa Bay Rays Before the MLB Trade Deadline

Mike Esposito
New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays
New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays / Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays have done a fantastic job proving to the baseball world that, with a 52-38, their 2018 season was no fluke.

As things currently stand, Tampa owns a slim 1.5-game lead in the AL Wild Card race. If they want to pad their lead or even catch the New York Yankees for first in the AL East (6.5 games back), the Rays might have to make a couple of moves by the July 31 MLB trade deadline.

With that in mind, here are the Tampa's three biggest team needs.

3. Catcher

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles
Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles / Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Rays own a pretty well-rounded lineup, but could definitely use some fresh blood behind the plate. Travis d'Arnaud has been one of the most underrated signings made during the season, but Mike Zunino hasn't had the kind of impact the organization expected him to have this year. Adding a backstop with a more consistent bat would give the Rays more production out of their catching tandem and add much needed depth at the position for the stretch run.

2. Fifth Starter

Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox / Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The Rays rotation is in excellent form this year (3.01 ERA, No. 1 in MLB), but adding a fifth starter before the deadline should be a top priority for the front office. Tyler Glasnow, who has been on the injured list since mid-May, recently suffered a setback in his rehab and won't be back until August at the earliest. Adding a cheap rental like Matthew Boyd at the deadline would give Tampa's rotation the boost it needs and would be an excellent insurance policy just in case Glasnow is unable to return this season.

1. Closer

Houston Astros v Tampa Bay Rays
Houston Astros v Tampa Bay Rays / Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Rays have used a closer-by-committee approach for the entire year and have seen a good amount of success with this strategy. However, adding an elite closer at the deadline would make handling the ninth inning a lot easier for manager Kevin Cash. Top-notch closers like Ken Giles and Will Smith should be available around the deadline and with a farm system flush with talent, the Rays have more than enough trade pieces to swing a deal.

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