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AL East Notes: Rays, Diaz, Bauers, Tribe, Elias, Jays

Some items from around the AL East…

  • Thursday’s three-team deal between the Rays, Indians, and Mariners was a very notable swap for all sides, and while payroll concerns were a big factor for Seattle and Cleveland, the Rays’ role was apparently more baseball-centric, and all the more interesting given the team’s long-standing admiration for first baseman Jake Bauers.  As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes, Bauers had long been seen as the Rays’ projected first baseman of the future, and the 23-year-old only just made his big league debut in 2018.  New acquisition Yandy Diaz, however, adds a bit more positional flexibility as well as a right-handed bat to Tampa’s roster.  “Jake’s pretty special to us and our high opinion of him doesn’t change….We like him a lot,” Rays senior VP of baseball operations Chaim Bloom said.  “This was one (deal) where there was no high-fiving, just something we thought really made sense for us going forward. The Indians are getting a hell of a player. It’s going to be fun to watch his career progress.”
  • In more details on the trade, Topkin reiterated that Edwin Encarnacion isn’t likely to be flipped from the Mariners to the Rays, even though Seattle would very well trade Encarnacion elsewhere before Opening Day.  That fits with a report from Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who said that Encarnacion wasn’t originally a part of any talks between the Rays and Indians, who were initially planning to just swap Bauers for Diaz in a regular two-team deal.  Hoynes also “would not be surprised” if the Tribe acquires a veteran bat for pinch-hitting or part-time DH duty, to get some playing time when Carlos Santana is at first base and Bauers is deployed as a corner outfielder.
  • Mike Elias’ contract with the Orioles may be a five-year deal, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com has heard, though Kubatko noted that this hasn’t been confirmed by the organization.  It isn’t unusual, of course, for teams to not publicly release details on executive contracts.  Five years isn’t an uncommon contract length even for a first-time GM like Elias, especially given the large amount of work he faces in overseeing what should be a very extensive rebuild.
  • The Blue Jays are known to be looking for some veteran rotation help, though they apparently weren’t “serious bidders” for the recently-signed Charlie Morton or Lance Lynn, Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith writes.  Morton signed a two-year, $30MM deal with the Rays that includes an option year, while Lynn reportedly got a three-year, $30MM commitment from the Rangers.  It would be somewhat surprising if Toronto signed an experienced starter to such a contract, either in price or perhaps anything longer than two years, given how the Jays are in a rebuilding phase.  The Blue Jays reportedly at least checked in on Lynn, though it isn’t surprising that they balked at giving him a three-year deal.  Toronto’s lack of moves on the pitching front makes them a team to watch as various hurlers continue to come off the board, particularly if the team is also weighing offers for Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez.

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