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Rays clear up second base, ship Tim Beckham to Orioles for prospect

The Rays traded former No. 1-overall pick Tim Beckham to the Orioles Monday for a minor-league pitcher.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

The Rays traded former No. 1-overall pick Tim Beckham to the Orioles Monday for a minor-league pitcher.

UPDATE, 6:49: Cash said they appreciated what Beckham did for them and "we wouldn't be in this position right now if it wasn't for him,'' but that this deal was about providing "a clearer path" for Brad Miller to play every day, betting on his bat coming back (and his defense not hurting them). Cash also said that with the totality of moves the Rays made there is "no doubt" they are a better team than 10 days ago.

UPDATE. 5:55: Several Rays players said they didn't like seeing Beckham go and were surprised the Rays didn't get a big-leaguer to replace him.

Chris Archer: "I'm happy for him personally but I think it strips a little bit away from our team that's helped us vibe and click up to this point in the season.''

Evan Longoria: "I think we had a pretty good feel the front office was trying to add mainly and not subtract so obviously the loss of Beck hurts a little. ...  I guess we always hope if you giving up somebody who has been successful at the major-league you would get somebody of similar caliber in return.'' …

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Sternberg: Rays ready to make 'quick' decision once they get stadium options

Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg talks with reporters before the start of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Thursday, March 23, 2017.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Tampa Bay Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg talks with reporters before the start of the game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Thursday, March 23, 2017.

Principal owner Stuart Sternberg said the Rays are working pretty much every day on the effort to get a new stadium.

But as of now, the team is waiting for Hillsborough County officials "to completely weigh in" with a site and specifics of the project.

"When they do then we'll be able to make a decision in a pretty quick time," he said.

That makes it sound as if they already know what their Pinellas options are, but he said not quite.

"We have sites in mind, and it's a question of what will get done around the site and how are they going to get paid for," he said. "And once municipalities are able to line those things up, not completely buttoned up but at least to a good extent, then we'll be able to make a decision."

Sternberg said they were hoping to have a decision by the end of the season, but the end of the year may be more likely.

Hillsborough County commissioner Ken Hagan told the Times on July 11 they expected to make an announcement in the "relatively near future.'' …

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Who will the Rays target at the trade deadline?

Orioles closer Zach Britton is one of the hottest commodities on the trade market.

Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Orioles closer Zach Britton is one of the hottest commodities on the trade market.

With the exception of Game 7 in the World Series, July 31 is the craziest day of every MLB season. Every team will scramble to buy and sell players before 4 p.m. EST, the deadline for non-waiver trades. With the Rays on the cusp of contention — they're 2.5 games behind the Royals for the second American League Wild Card — they definitely won't be sellers. But if they're buyers, whom will they target?

The Rays have made several moves already to improve the team. Last month, they traded for Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, who's become a regular starter. After the Dodgers designated reliever Sergio Romo for assignment, the Rays picked him up for cash considerations on July 22. White Sox left-hander Dan Jennings and Mariners right-hander Steve Cishek came in last week, giving the team two solid bullpen arms. And Mets slugger Lucas Duda has added some pop to the Rays lineup.

But the team still needs some help, and principal owner Stuart Sternberg might be willing to take on a larger payroll if it means helping the team. He told the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin on Sunday, "You'll never hear the words 'We're going all in,' but we're pushing more chips onto the table." …

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Rays series preview: Who are the Astros?

Second baseman Jose Altuve is on the short list for AL MVP.

AP Photo/Chris Szagola

Second baseman Jose Altuve is on the short list for AL MVP.

The Rays are done with the Yankees for now, but an even tougher foe looms — the Astros, owners of the best record in the American League. Here's the information you need to know about Houston before the action kicks off.

Record: 68-36, first in AL West

Just how great is the Astros offense? FanGraphs hosts a statistic called wRC+, which measures how good or bad hitters are relative to the league average. Not only does Houston's 129 wRC+ this year lead the majors, it's the best of any club since 1900. Even with star sluggers Carlos Correa and George Springer on the disabled list, the Astros have a stacked lineup. Two of the team's starting pitchers have returned from injuries recently, strengthening a rotation that's had some hiccups this year. With a deep farm system and some holes in the bullpen, the Astros might make some moves before the trade deadline this afternoon.

"The overall standings still do little to make Astros fans concerned about anything pre-October, but recent reality for the Astros shows some warts that must be addressed if October is going to actually be enjoyable." (Sean Pendergast, Houston Press) …

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Rays morning after: Talk of trades today, then wins vs. Astros

UPDATE, 3:15: Deals are staring to break, with with Sonny Gray going to the Yankees and reliever Joe Smith to the Indians.

UPDATE, 3:11: With less than an hour until the deadlne, the Rays are still working the phones but have nothing pending. That makes "stand pat" seem the more likely outcome, though that can change in one text or call.

UPDATE, 2:03: The Astros. whom the Rays face tonight, have traded OF Nori Aoki to Toronto to LHP Francisco Liriano. And the Brewers got back RHP Jeremy Jeffress from Texas.

UPDATE, 1:24: The ebb and flow of deadline day; now hearing Rays may end up standing pat. And that may change again in an hour.

UPDATE, 12:49: Hearing Rays are working hard and somewhat optimistic of another deal by today's deadlne. Assuming targets remain the same - reliever and/or hitter to help vs. LH pitching. Could also move either Beckham or Miller.

UPDATE, 11:44: It's been a quiet start to the day, with the only big news thus far reports of the Red Sox cloising in on a deal to get reliever Addison Reed from the Mets for three minor-leaguers. …

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Rays made a big trade: Rights to Lucas Duda Instagram fun for donation to Curtis Granderson charity

The Instagram account run by Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson that pokes fun at now Rays first baseman/DH Lucas Duda.

Instagram

The Instagram account run by Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson that pokes fun at now Rays first baseman/DH Lucas Duda.

The Rays were involved in a noteworthy trade on Sunday — gettiing the rights to the Instagram account run by Mets OF Curtis Granderson that pokes fun at now Rays 1B/DH Lucas Duda, in return for a donation of tickets to Granderson's foundation.

Granderson started the account because of Duda's preference for a low profile, and would post occasional photos and videos of him.

Here is how the deal came down today on social media:

 

 

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For starters: Rays at Yankees, seeking to avoid a sweep

Jake Faria has been one of the Rays' most consistent starters since coming to the majors, with eight quality starts in his nine outings.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Jake Faria has been one of the Rays' most consistent starters since coming to the majors, with eight quality starts in his nine outings.

UPDATE, 12:33: Cash said Morrison is feeling better - moving around more and being louder - and will once again be available to pinch-hit with the expectation he willbe back at first base on Monday or Tuesday. ... Cash said there is no major concern about CF Kevin Kiermaier being scratched from his Saturday rehab game due to back tightness and he is expected to resume playing in a couple days.

Here is the Rays lineup:

Bourjos cf,
Souza RF,
Longoria 3b,
Duda DH,
Plouffe 1b,
Dickerson lf,
Ramos c,
Beckham 2b,
Hechavarria SS,
Faria p

And here is the Yankees lineup:
Gardner cf
C. Frazier lf
Judge rf
Holliday dh
Gregorius ss
Headley 1b
T. Frazier 3b
Torreyes 2b
Romine c
Montgomery p …

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For starters: Rays at Yankees, counting on Blake Snell to stop a skid

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) launches Double Bubble wrapper darts from the dugout during the game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, July 26, 2017.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) launches Double Bubble wrapper darts from the dugout during the game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, July 26, 2017.

UPDATE, 12:17: Morrison is not feeling any better, Cash said, and there is a potential the heel problem could linger. ... Cash said he planned to DH Longoria either today or Sunday and decided to make it today.

Here is the Yankees lineup:
Gardner cf
C. Frazier lf
Judge rf
Sanchez c
Holliday dh
Gregorius ss
Cooper 1b
T. Frazier 3b
Torreyes 2b
C. Smith p

UPDATE, 10:01: Morrison is out of the lineup again, with Lucas Duda at 1B and vs. a lefty, and Longoria is at DH today.

Rays lineup:

Bourjos cf,
Souza rf,
Longoria dh,
Duda 1b,
Plouffe 3b,
Dickerson lf,
Beckham 2b,
Hechavarria ss,
Sucre c.
Snell p

DEVELOPING: After losing two straight to the Yankees, the Rays are looking to turn things around today with LHP Blake Snell on the mound.

That can be a good thing if Snell pitches like he did Monday against the Orioles, working a career-high seven-plus innings while using his fastball more aggressively early and throwing more strikes. …

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For starters, Rays at Yankees, looking for a boost with Duda aboard

Newly acquired Lucas Duda will be starting at first base.

AP photo

Newly acquired Lucas Duda will be starting at first base.

After Thursday's crushing extra-inning loss, after the potential 27th out rolled untouched through the infield untouched, the Rays are looking to rebound tonight against the wild-card leading Yankees.

But to do so, they will likely need a big contribution from their retooled bullpen as they are starting rookie RHP Austin Pruitt, who has not worked more the five innings this season. Plus, they traded their primary long reliever, Erasmo Ramirez, earlier today to the Mariners.

They have a new look in their lineup as well, with newly acquired Lucas Duda starting at first base, with struggling Logan Morrison getting the day off.

The Yankees, meanwhile, are starting struggling ace RHP Masahiro Tanaka, who is 6-2, 4.50 in 10 starts vs. the Rays.

Here is the Rays lineup:
Smith cf,
Dickerson lf,
Longoria 3b,
Duda 1b,
Souza rf,
Miller dh,
Ramos c,
Beckham 2b,
Hechavarria ss,
Pruitt p

And the Yankees lineup:
GArdner cf
C. Frazier lf
Judge rf
Sanchez c
Gregorius ss
Holliday dh
Headley 1b
T. Frazier 3b
Torreyes 2b
Tanaka p

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Rays add another piece to bullpen, acquiring RHP Steve Cishek for Erasmo Ramirez

Steve Cishek has a 3.15 ERA in 20 games for the Mariners this season after returning in mid-May from off-season hip surgery.

Getty Images

Steve Cishek has a 3.15 ERA in 20 games for the Mariners this season after returning in mid-May from off-season hip surgery.

The Rays made another deal to change the look of their bullpen, acquiring RHP Steve Cishek from the Mariners for RHP Erasmo Ramirez.

Cishek, 31, has a 3,15 ERA and .183 opponents average in 23 games for the Mariners this season after returning in mid-May from October hip surgery, and after allowing three runs in his second outing has posted a 1.86 ERA since. Overall he has a 2.83 ERA and 121 saves over parts of eight seasons with the Marlins, Cardinals and Mariners.

Ramirez, who was acquired from Seattle in March 2015, had been used in several roles by the Rays, most recently as a multi-inning swing man. He had a 4-3, 4.80 record in 26 games (eight starts) this season, and 22-20, 3.98 over three with the Rays.

Though Cishek - a free-agent to be - makes nearly double, $6M to $3.215M for Ramirez, the Rays are getting cash from the Mariners to make the trade money neutral. …

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Rays morning after: How exactly did they let that game slip away

Gary Sanchez of the New York Yankees drives in Brett Gardner to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Getty Images

Gary Sanchez of the New York Yankees drives in Brett Gardner to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Rays manager Kevin Cash assumed Thursday's game was over when Gary Sanchez rolled a ground ball toward the shortstop spot with the tying run on third and two outs in the ninth. So did closer Alex Colome. As well as second baseman Tim Beckham.

"One hundred percent,'' Beckham said. "I'm sure everyone in the stadium did.''

Except that neither Beckham, whp was shifted to the third base side of second, nor shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria made the play, or even much of an effort, as the ball rolled between, allowing the Yankees to tie the game, then win it 6-5 in the 11th on a walkoff homer off Andrew Kittredge.

How does a fairly routine looking grounder roll through the infield untouched in that crucial of a situation?

Cash said the players were positioned properly, with Hechavarria moved closer to third, but didn't execute.

"Fair to say there was some miscommunication,'' he said. "Both guys appeared to give up on the ball assuming that the other was going to get it.''

Cash said that is an alignment they use "all the time,'' estimating probably for 40 pitches a game against right-handed pull hitters. …

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What you should know about new Rays slugger Lucas Duda

Slugger Lucas Duda will add some (more) power to the Rays lineup.

John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TNS

Slugger Lucas Duda will add some (more) power to the Rays lineup.

The MLB trade deadline is a few days away, but the Rays aren't procrastinating. Earlier today, they swung a deal for the Mets' Lucas Duda, sending minor league right-hander Drew Smith to New York. The 31-year-old slugger has a .246 average, .347 on-base percentage and .532 slugging percentage in 291 plate appearances this year. Here's some more information about the left-handed-hitting, right-handed-throwing Duda.

He's a three-true-outcomes hitter. In 2017, batters are striking out more than ever, hitting more home runs than ever and walking — well, not quite more than ever, but more than they used to. Duda exemplifies these recent trends in the game: Of his 2,895 career plate appearances, 1,140 (39.4 percent) have ended in one of the three true outcomes. That's held true this season, as he's walloped 27 home runs, taken 37 walks and gone down on strikes 73 times in his 291 trips to the dish. …

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Rays add a bat, too, acquiring Lucas Duda from Mets

The Rays acquired 1B/DH Lucas Duda from the Mets.

AP photo

The Rays acquired 1B/DH Lucas Duda from the Mets.

The Rays made another big move today, acquiring 1B/DH Lucas Duda from the Mets.

Duda, 31, is a lefty slugger who will take over as the Rays primary DH against right-handers, with Corey Dickerson now playing most of the time in the outfield.

To get Duda, the Rays gave up minor-league RHP Drew Smith, who they got from the Tigers for OF Mikie Mahtook.

Duda, 31, is batting .246 with an .879 OPS for the Mets with 17 home runs and 37 RBI in 75 games. He is a free agent after this season.

Smith, acquired in April to compete the off-season deal, appeared at Class A, AA and AAA for the Rays. His overall stats, including in the Tigers organization, are 1-2, 1.60 ERA with 7 saves in 31 appearances.

To make room for Duda (DOO-da) on the 40-man roster, and for newly acquired LHP Dan Jennings on the active roster, the Rays before game time DFA'd OF Shane Peterson.

They will have to make two more moves on Friday to add Duda and RHP Austin Pruitt.

 

 

 

 

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For starters: Rays at Yankees, in a pretty big series

Chris Archer will be on the mound for the Rays.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Chris Archer will be on the mound for the Rays.

The Rays open a challenging road trip tonight in New York, the first of four games against the wild-card leading Yankees.

RHP Chris Archer will be on the mound for the Rays, facing veteran Yankees LHP CC Sabathia.

The Rays earlier today made a move to boost their bullpen, acquiring LHP Dan Jennings in trade from the White Sox. Jennings is expected to be here tonight.

Lineups when available.

The Rays go into play tonight 1-1/2 games behind the wild-card leading Yankees and 2-1/2 behind the AL East-leading Red Sox.

 

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What you should know about new Rays reliever Dan Jennings

Artsy, no?

Brian Davidson/Getty Images

Artsy, no?

The Rays have finally brought in a reliever — and this one isn't a DFA'd castoff. White Sox left-hander Dan Jennings will come to Tampa Bay, while first base prospect Casey Gillaspie heads to Chicago. The 30-year-old reliever has a lifetime ERA of 2.86 in 261-1/3 innings, recording one save and 27 holds in 35 opportunities. Here are some more things to know about the newest Ray.

He gets a lot of weak grounders. Jennings doesn't have a great strikeout rate (19.0 percent) or walk rate (10.2 percent), but he keeps the ball on the ground — since he debuted in 2012, his 54.7 percent ground ball rate ranks 22nd among relievers. And they aren't squaring the ball up, either: He's given up an exit velocity of 86.0 mph, which puts him 36th in the majors. For a guy who pitches one inning per game, that'll suffice. …

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