The Tampa Bay Devil Rays have a plethora of outfielders - Rocco Baldelli, Carl Crawford, Jonny Gomes on the major league level, and Delmon Young, Elijah Dukes, and BJ Upton on the minor league one.
This has naturally lead to speculation by the sports writing/fantasy community about what the Devil Rays should do to find a place for everyone of them on the major league level. From there, trade speculation naturally flows (barring a change in baseball rules that allows for 6 Ofers.)
This week the speculation surrounded Carl Crawford, an under-25 speedster with budding power that recalls a young Eric Davis (and what Rotogold he was!)
In order to weigh any conjecture, one must recognize that the Devil Rays need starting and relief pitching. Any floated rumors that do not address these needs with pitchers at the minimum value of Edwin Jackson and Chuck Tiffany should be dismissed with extreme prejudice.
A secondary need is the infield. Jorge Cantu is a good run producer at 2B and minor leaguer Wes Bankston should be in line to play 1B by next season (and if unable, 1B can be addressed on the fly.)
SS Julio Lugo is a free agent following this season, as is 3B Aubrey Huff. I expect both to be traded by July 31st. I see no chance of BJ Upton remaining at SS despite the sick desire to see him go 40/40 at AAA - 40 SB and 40 errors.
With that background, I'd give respect to any rumors that included two good pitchers and one top flight infield prospect, and the farther the pitchers are from the major league roster, the more likely the deal would include a fourth player.
That is a very steep price to meet, and one that will likely need to be met to shake the Devil Rays into dealing Carl Crawford. Heck, I could see an offer close to the two pitchers/one infielder being the price for Rocco Baldelli.
After all, young, signed players offer cost certainty. It is more valuable than just controlling a player through his arbitration years because arbitration is set against relative players values and those appear to be rising again after hitting their nadir with the Vladimir Guerrero signing a few winters ago.
As a result, I do not see Crawford being dealt. What I can see happening is the Devil Rays sending the minor league outfield prospects to another team in order to address the pitching needs and infield depth.
Or even crazier, sending some desparate team Damon Hollins. Hullo St. Louis?