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Texas Rangers rumors: Tampa Bay Rays pitchers subject of trade talks

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T.R. Sullivan says the Rangers are talking to the Rays about numerous pitchers, including Moore, Odorizzi and Smyly

Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Rangers rumors:  The Tampa Bay Rays are talking to the Texas Rangers about numerous pitchers, including Matt Moore, Jake Odorizzi and Drew Smyly, according to T.R. Sullivan on Twitter.  This is on the heels of last night's news from Jon Morosi about the Rangers talking Matt Moore with the Rays, as part of discussions involving numerous pitchers.

We talked about Matt Moore last night, and Jake Odorizzi has been discussed as a possible trade target for some time.  Odorizzi, 26, came to Tampa Bay in the James Shields trade, and has been a fixture in the Rays rotation since 2014.  The righthander had a 3.6 bWAR in a breakout year last year that saw him put up a 3.35 ERA and a 4.38 FIP, but has gone backwards a bit this year, with his ERA going up to 4.47 and his FIP to 4.38, as his walk and HR rate have both gone up a little bit, with the HR rate moving more towards league average, after having been below league average prior to 2016.

One of the big selling points for Odorizzi is service time, as he will have three years of team control remaining after this year.  The flip side is that, unless you see him taking a big step forward, he's a #3/#4 type that is going to cost a fair amount in terms of prospects...he projects to be a 2-3 win pitcher, realistically.  That has value, but you have to decide if you want to cough up significant prospects for a cost controlled #3.

Drew Smyly, meanwhile, is a 27 year old left who came to the Rays in the David Price trade.  He had a really good 2014 season, had 2015 cut short due to injury, and has struggled in 2016, putting up a 5.47 ERA and a 4.48 FIP.  Like Odorizzi, Smyly has a good K rate and allows a bunch of home runs, and like Odorizzi, he's controllable for a while, being under team control through 2018.  He's the type of pitcher you plug into the rotation to give you innings, not to lead your staff, though with Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels, the top of the rotation is pretty well under control.

Jeff Wilson tweets that the Rangers are looking for relief pitching as well as starting pitcher, though a starter is the bigger priority, and so it is certainly possible the Rangers could look to try to acquire both a starter and a reliever in the same deal with Tampa -- much as they did last year with Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman from the Phillies.  Tampa, however, isn't exactly deep in relievers...if you recall, there was discussion about the Rangers possibly dealing a reliever to Tampa this spring.  Lefty Xavier Cedeno, acquired by the Rays from the Dodgers in 2015 (right after the Dodgers acquired him from the Nationals), would seem to be a potential relief target...he has held lefties to a 512 OPS this year, and has a very nice 2.56 FIP that suggests he's better than his 3.99 ERA indicates.  Cedeno would give the Rangers another lefty in the pen that Jeff Banister would, hopefully, trust.

Wilson also identifies San Diego righthander Andrew Cashner as a player of interest.  Cashner is a former first round pick out of TCU who was once highly thought of enough to be dealt as the main return for Anthony Rizzo, but who has not pitched well the past two seasons, with a 4.53 ERA and a 4.20 FIP since the start of 2015.  Cashner is an arm that has some upside -- he had a 2.55 ERA with a 3.09 FIP in 19 starts in 2014 -- but he's never seen it really click for long periods of time.  If the Padres aren't going to offer him a qualifying offer, then Cashner could be a relatively cheap rental to take a flyer on prior to him hitting the free agent market this offseason.