Tampa Bay Rays Rumors: Addition Of Jesse Crain Would Be Savvy Move For Team That Needs Little

By Thom Tsang
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, the Tampa Bay Rays might be one of the only contending teams in MLB that doesn’t need to make a move.

If they were to make one anyway, though, you’d probably guess that they might want to focus on the bullpen where former closer Kyle Farnsworth is a disaster, dynamite setup man Jake McGee a mixed bag, and current closer Fernando Rodney a roller coaster of two-run saves.

And of course, how like it for the Rays to go looking for any edge when it comes to getting excess value, even when they happen to be on another team’s DL?

Jesse Crain is, of course, an All-Star in for the 2013 Chicago White Sox, but one who couldn’t participate in the Midsummer Classic due to a right shoulder injury — similar to the one that shelved the righty on the DL in 2012 as well. In fact, with a recent setback cancelling a bullpen session prior to the weekend, it’s difficult to say exactly when the the 32-year-old will be able to take the mound again this season.

That, however, hasn’t stopped the Rays from pursuing the nine-year veteran for a stretch run, because the upside — a 0.74/1.15 ERA/WHIP, 11.29 K/9 to 2.70 BB/9 — is considerable.

Because he’s currently shelved on the DL with his health being far from a certainty, you’d have to imagine that Andrew Friedman and co. are looking to get a bit of a discount here as well for the impending free agent.

Now, it’s hard to say whether it’ll get done as Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports has tweeted that a deal is not close, but should the Rays avoid some sort of bidding war, it would represent a very … Rays-like move to fill a bit of a hole by going a little off-the-grid and looking potential damaged goods.

There are, of course, other arms available that could help Tampa Bay in late innings.

Usual suspects like Luke Gregerson and John Axford could both be good fits, but their price tags would almost certainly be higher (since they’re still able to, you know, pitch); and for a team where a move for a reliever is really more of a nice-to-have than a need at the moment, there is little point for the Rays to pursue that road unless an injury or something urgent comes up.

Until then, an injured Crain whose shoulder comes with no guarantees of holding up might just be the best acquisition the team can make.

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