Tampa Bay Rays: Three Questions Following the Blake Snell Trade

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 05: Blake Snell #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays wipes his face in the dug out after he was relieved in the fourth inning of Game 2 of the ALDS against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on October 05, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 05: Blake Snell #4 of the Tampa Bay Rays wipes his face in the dug out after he was relieved in the fourth inning of Game 2 of the ALDS against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on October 05, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Kevin Kiermaier prepares to dive for a ball hit to center field.
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Three questions following the Blake Snell trade

What’s next for the Rays?

If the Blake Snell trade proved anything, it’s that the Tampa Bay Rays have found a formula that works for them. They have shown that they are not afraid to shake up a World Series caliber roster to stay committed to that formula. Yes, this poses an inherent risk, but it’s one that the Rays are more than willing to take given how successful they have been doing it in a division full of big spending powerhouses.

So after this blockbuster, it begs the question: what is next for the Rays?

First on their agenda appears to be trading Kevin Kiermaier. Kiermaier, the longest tenured Ray, is set to make a team leading $11.5 million in 2021, and $25 million more until his contract expires in 2023. However, it will not as easy to offload Kiermaier as it was for Snell.

Kiermaier provides Gold Glove defense in centerfield but has been a below average hitter throughout his career. It is unlikely the Rays will get much farm talent back in a deal for Kiermaier without eating a significant portion of his remaining contract, or including some of their prospects as well. It might be in their best interest to try and flip him for a veteran starter or catcher that can fill one of their immediate voids. Regardless, finding a partner for a Kiermaier trade will be difficult.

After that, the Rays have a lot of other questions they have to answer. The Rays clearly have no intention on forfeiting their dominance over the AL East, but now have to find ways to obtain the same amount of success without Blake Snell in a longer season, where durable starters will prove to be more valuable than in 2020.

With the Yankees looking to avenge their ALDS loss, and the Blue Jays poised to take the next step, the Rays have blown the AL East wide open by remaining committed to their tried and true formula. They certainly have not made it easier on themselves, but they never do. They are a team built on adapting to the resources they have available, even if those resources are scarce on the surface.

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Luis Patino and Francisco Mejia should factor into the Tampa Bay Rays’ 2021 plans from the first day of spring training, but it will be interesting to see if anyone on their current roster can fill the void left behind by Blake Snell, both on and off the field. Kevin Cash and GM Erik Neander will have their hands full if they wish to return to the 2021 World Series, but if they are going to do it, they will do it the Rays Way.