The Rays are in fourth place in the American League East, which you'd normally assume meant they were in a terrible position. Not the case, as they're four games over .500, 4½ games back in the AL East and 2½ games behind the second wild card spot as of Wednesday morning. There's no reason to think they won't continue to be in playoff contention come late July.
Needs (likelihood to deal for position in italics)
Note: I'm not going to put the same explanation for each of these. But I doubt the Rays are going to make a move to upgrade any of the positions below.
Starting pitching-Low: In the bottom third in starters' ERA in the majors, the Rays' staff has underperformed. We found out that David Price is human after all, as he's been hurt and been hit (5.24 ERA). After a great year last year, Jeremy Hellickson has also been beaten up a little bit (5.11 ERA), although his peripherals suggest a correction. After showing so much promise at a young age, Matt Moore has just been kind of OK in the majors so far. The Rays have highly thought of prospects in Jake Odorizzi, Alex Colome and Chris Archer that can fill in to cover injuries or poor performance.
Bullpen-Low: Three reliable guys and a cloud of bad.
Closer-Low: Fernando Rodney has struggled mightily in the closer's role after his spectacular 2012.
Catcher-Low: The Rays have been going back and forth between Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton so far this year. Neither is a world beater, although Lobaton has put up some decent numbers.
Shortstop-Low: Yunel Escobar was bad last year for the Jays and he's been bad this year for the Rays. He's good defensively, but my guess is they're hoping they got more offensive production.
Fits on the Cub Roster
Kevin Gregg and James Russell could help the Rays' bullpen. Dioner Navarro could be another catcher option.
What's in it for the Cubs?
Sickels' Top 20 Rays Prospects
Fangraphs' Top 15 Rays Prospects
Ranked the eighth- and fourth-best organization for talent by Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America, respectively, this farm system is super deep. They have major-league ready pitching prospects (Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and Alex Colome) to pair with developing pitching prospects (Taylor Guerrieri, Enny Romero and Blake Snell). They have solid position prospects in Hak-Ju Lee, Richie Shaffer and Drew Vettleson. And there are a bunch more guys in the links above that are highly thought of. Do yourself a favor. Don't waste your time clicking on them. Why? See below.
Overall Fit- What's lower than low? That.
They have holes and they don't care. It's the Rays. They can't spend and they know it, which means Andrew Friedman clings to prospects. In the last three years, the Rays have been contenders each and every year. They haven't made a single move before August 1 in any of those three years, from what I can see.
Next Up: Texas Rangers