The Rays and Mariners made a weird trade this morning, completing an exchange of right-handed relievers that they seem to think will help them both capture the playoff spot for which they are directly competing. The Rays will send Erasmo Ramirez back to Seattle and will get Steve Cishek in return.
Cishek is a good reliever, and so it’s a little weird to see the Mariners letting go of him after seemingly committing to the playoff race last week. Ramirez can start or pitch out of the pen, and the Mariners are probably hoping he can strengthen their truly mediocre rotation. The problem is that he hasn’t been good this year—he’s got an 87 ERA+ in 69 mostly relief innings—and has been better as a reliever than a starter. Maybe this is just GM Jerry Dipoto’s nervous tic getting the best of him.
Tampa has been on the move, bringing in Adeiny Hechavarria, lefty reliever Dan Jennings, and Sergio Romo, who they seem to hope will rediscover his slider (he probably won’t). Yesterday, they traded for Lucas Duda, who will help carry out their philosophy of hitting as many dingers as possible.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rays are still on the prowl, too:
The Rays’ offense isn’t spectacular, but when you have Logan Morrison and Steven Souza and Corey Dickerson mashing taters left and right, why not try to ride those surges into the playoffs. Their starting pitching is pretty good already, anchored by Chris Archer and Alex Cobb, so it doesn’t really make sense to sit tight and hope the American League is less competitive next year.
Right now, the Rays and Mariners are chasing the second wild-card spot that is currently held by the super-streaking Royals. But it’s only July (almost August), and there’s probably going to be a lot of flipping and flopping in and out of that spot. The Yankees, who are also on a brief streak, are holding onto the top wild-card spot with a one-game lead.
At this point, the AL wild card could be anyone’s game—even the sub-.500 Mariners’—and it will likely come down to whichever team can get the hottest right at the finish line. Seattle and Kansas City have an advantage, though. They won’t be spending their final month playing head-to-head like the Yankees and Rays will, though Seattle’s duels with the Astros will probably prove harmful.
When it’s all said and done, this trade will probably go down as a forgettable one. Unless Ramirez or Cishek become a World Series hero, then we’ll all have fun talking about where the other team went wrong.