The Tampa Bay Rays have proven this year that their surprise 90-72 season last year was no fluke, as they currently sit just one game out of the second AL Wild Card spot with a 57-46 record.
The Rays have plenty of talent to make it to the postseason, but if they want to stamp their ticket to October and make a legitimate run at a championship, they'll need to acquire another solid bat and be active buyers in the relief market at the MLB Trade Deadline.
With that in mind, here are five of the most likely deadline targets for the Tampa Bay Rays.
5. Zack Wheeler, SP, New York Mets
Zack Wheeler (6-6, 4.69 ERA) has been the subject of several trade rumors in recent months, but the buzz has diminished considerably after landing on the injured list with shoulder fatigue. However, Tampa reportedly kicked the tires on the soon-to-be free agent recently and, if he pitches well upon his return to New York's rotation (expected to be Friday), there's a chance he'll be the Rays' fifth starter by July 31.
4. Shane Greene, RP, Detroit Tigers
The Rays have been using a closer-by-committee approach for the entire season. While that strategy has them in playoff contention, it's hard to believe it can help them make a deep postseason run. Despite their success, the Rays have also blown 16 saves on the year (T-No. 11 in MLB). Adding a lock-down closer like Shane Greene (1.25 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 22 saves) at the deadline would give Tampa the dominant finisher needed to make a legitimate World Series run both in 2019 and beyond, as Greene is under team control through 2020.
3. Nicholas Castellanos, 3B/OF, Detroit Tigers
Nicholas Castellanos has been subject to trade rumors since before the 2019 season even started. If the Tigers finally decide to trade their young slugger before the deadline, the Rays would be smart to try and make a deal. The 27-year-old soon-to-be free agent owns a .822 OPS on the year and leads the MLB with 34 doubles so far. The Rays offense has struggled to find their power stroke this season (.750 OPS, No. 18 in MLB) and adding a strong bat like Castellanos to their lineup would provide a tremendous boost.
2. Todd Frazier, 1B/3B, New York Mets
The Rays are in desperate need of a power bat. If Castellanos proves to be too expensive, Todd Frazier would be an excellent fallback option. Frazier had a slow start to the year, but he's been red-hot since the beginning of June, sporting a .830 OPS with 10 homers and 26 RBI. A power bat with postseason experience, Frazier would be an excellent addition to the middle of Tampa's order for the postseason. Additionally, the 33-year-old is capable of playing both corner infield positions and would be a huge upgrade over first baseman Ji-Man Choi, who's slashed .185/.348/.241 since June 19.
1. Kirby Yates, RP, San Diego Padres
Closer has been a big need for the Rays this season. If they want to go all-in for a championship this year, meeting the Padres' demands for Kirby Yates could be the right way to go. The 2019 All-Star has arguably been the best closer in baseball, recording an MLB-best 31 saves to go along with a 1.05 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. Yates still has one more year of team control after the 2019 season and could require a king's ransom to bring him to Tampa Bay. However, acquiring the league's premier closer is, without a doubt, worth the price to make the playoffs.
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Mike Esposito is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Esposito also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username espo6891. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.