Momentum is building in trade speculating circles for the Tampa Bay Rays to be buyers at the July 31st non-waivers trading deadline. A wild-card leading 39-28 record plus a stocked minor league system are the two factors fueling this excitement.
With the chance for the team's 1st play-off appearance....no, its first ever play-off contending season, the team can revitialize its fan base by acquiring talent via trade as a signal the organization has arrived. Despite the team's torrid start, average attendence is up just to 18,444 from 2007's 17,148 per game. This would argue against making short-term decisions like depleting the farm system in hopes a splashy trade would drive attendence where the team's great start could not.
However, there may be a different reason to trade prospects for a big name player like C.C. Sabathia, and it is directly related to the wealth of prospects the Rays' organization possesses. With so many prospects, there is not enough major league roster spots for them to fill.
If the team can aquire a big name player in exchange for a few of its middle-tier prospects, then the organization will have opened up spots for players behind those traded prospects or will have freed the players blocked at the majors from stagnating the same way the Houston Astros wrecked their young hitting prospects by forcing them to sit behind major league veterans.
Trading from depth would have the effect of pre-emptively culling the herd before those prospects got to that point. As DB11 mentioned here , the Rays would still get draft pick compensation at next year's MLB draft if they acquired a player like C.C. Sabathia and let him walk. These picks could then be used to add quality prospects at the lower levels where they will no longer be bumping up against playing time issues about to be experienced by many of the Rays top level prospects.