The Rays are pleased with a “strong return” as they complete the Tyler Glasnow trade

The Rays are pleased with a “strong return” as they complete the Tyler Glasnow trade

street. PETERSBURG — Although it seemed unlikely, president of baseball operations Eric Neander insisted for months that the Rays were able and willing to continue starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow and his record $25 million salary that would have pushed their payroll to record levels.

But interest in the tall right-hander with dominant chops and a history of injuries and inconsistency was predictably high, and the Rays saw the potential for what they saw as a solid return that could keep them competitive while freeing up millions to spend in the coming years.

After speaking with Dodgers officials, including some former Tampa Bay teammates, for weeks — including at singer Brad Paisley’s 100-acre ranch during the recent Winter Meetings in Nashville — the Rays closed a few days ago on what they felt was the best deal. for them .

Saturday, it was finally official.

The Rays traded Glasnow, outfielder Manuel Margot and $4 million to Los Angeles for two promising young players they hope will prove capable replacements, starter Ryan Pepiot and outfielder Jonny DeLuca, saving $33 million in doing so. As part of the deal, the Dodgers signed a four-year, $111.5 million extension with Glasnow.

“There was a lot of interest, and that in itself forced us to be open,” Neander said Saturday. “So the opportunity to have what we believe is a really strong return for the two players that we have back to be in our mix sooner rather than later has given us confidence that it’s worth the trade-off as we look to continue trying to be as competitive as possible, not just next year, but in “The following years.”

Pepiot, 26, is a hard-throwing right-hander who will likely slot into the rotation that Zach Eflin now faces. DeLuca, 25, is a right-handed hitter with speed and power who, like Margot, can play all three positions in the outfield.

Neander said both have to earn their place and cautioned against creating expectations. But it seems clear that the Rays expect them to contribute significantly and quickly.

“This particular deal was something that for us, we considered not only our greatest return, but also the best fit for us,” Neander said. “While we lose some certainty in the accomplishments of Tyler and Manuel, we gain two players who we believe are well positioned to step in in the near term here and keep us in a very competitive space.”

Pepiot, a 6-foot-3, 215-pounder, has a change-up repertoire that some evaluators consider elite, with a mid-90s fastball that can hit the upper 90s and an improved slider. He was twice ranked among Baseball America’s top 100 prospects.

He made his big-league debut in 2022 and was scheduled to earn a spot in the Dodgers’ 2023 rotation until he was sidelined with an oblique strain in late spring. He didn’t reach the majors until mid-August, pitching in eight games (three starts) and going 2-1 with a 2.14 ERA.

“He’s big, strong and athletic,” Neander said. “Phenomenal changeup. His over-the-top fastball. An advanced ball that gives him three pitches that gives him a very good chance to be a good major league player. And I think he’s very close to that.”

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“The big thing for him, and after following him the last few years, is some adjustments and things that have been done over the last 12 months that I think have really helped with his command, his pitching. Things are in a pretty good place, but I think his pitching — Whether it’s mentality, mechanical adjustments, or what have you – it’s something we’ve seen take a meaningful step forward.

“When you have three pitchers with some depth on the roster, with good stuff and really starting to throw a strike, it gives you a lot of room to impact the rotation,” Neander continued.

DeLuca, a 25th-round pick, worked his way from Double A to Triple A to the major leagues last season, hitting .262 in 24 games with the Dodgers. He made it to 19 overall and continued to improve at every level.

“He’s an exceptional athlete, with an all-around skill set that can help you win games in a lot of different ways,” Neander said. “A bat that keeps going up and up, but a guy that can beat you in the batter’s box, can beat you with his legs on the bases and certainly defensively. We got a shot of that last year.”

Although the Rays frequently turn over their roster, Neander said trading two players who were key parts of their recent run of success was particularly difficult. “These are exceptional people who helped us win a lot of matches,” he said.

Neander said the agreement began to take shape in the week before the winter meetings. An opportunity for additional conversation arose when the Rays were invited to join Los Angeles team officials at a social event hosted by Paisley, a Dodgers fanatic.

“Brad has made it clear he’s a fan of Tyler,” Neander said. “We made sure to use that as much as we could. We have to do everything we can to get something like this done.”

There seemed to be some irony in the small-market Rays having to give $4 million to the big-budget Dodgers, especially in the same week that Los Angeles signed Shohei Ohtani to a record 10-year, $700 million deal.

But given what seemed like a limited market for Margot (with a $10 million salary and a $2 million buyout option in 2025), “to put this whole thing together, this was the way we had to get there,” Neander said. The Dodgers will get $2 million now and the other $2 million only if they decline that option.

Glasnow’s extension, which included a rework of how he would make $25 million in 2024 ($10 million signing bonus, $15 million salary), gives him $30 million in salary for 2025-27, then either a $30 million team option or an option Player worth $21.5 million. For 2028. Getting everything worked out and approved was the main reason the deal announcement was delayed until Saturday.

Neander said it was important to send Glasnow, who is from Southern California, into good stead. The pitcher said he appreciated that, as well as the opportunity he had — and enjoyed — with the Rays.

“It’s definitely bittersweet,” Glasnow told the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s the most fun I’ve ever played baseball, and I’ve learned a lot and made a lot of friends over the last six years. I’m also very excited to be able to return home and play for my hometown team. The Dodgers organization is very impressive.”

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