The Tampa Bay Rays are working the phones, the emails, and the text messages as the July 31st trade deadline approaches. Many of those potential trades have likely been in the works for a while now, as the Rays were in the cellar for much of the first half of the season.
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There is one problem emerging for Tampa Bay’s potential trade partners, however: the Rays keep winning. They have the second best record in baseball in July and they are currently enjoying a 16-5 stretch. With the relative weakness at the top of the American League East, the Rays might not be so crazy to think they can make the playoffs.
Joe Maddon and company have insisted since the darkest days of their 2014 season that they still have a chance to make noise right here and right now. The hole they dug for themselves simply looked too big, but their winning ways have brought them back to relevance.
If the Rays have actual hope in another 10 days, they certainly won’t be sellers. They might not trade David Price and they might not trade Ben Zobrist. According to Peter Gammons, the Rays will wait until 48 hours before the deadline to even consider a deal and might have even backed out of a deal for Zobrist:
"I know this: Tampa Bay really thinks it has a chance. Now their pitching has come back together again, I talked to people in Seattle who thought they were very close to a deal for Ben Zobrist and they said the Rays pulled back the last couple of days because they want to take it right down to the last 48 hours before the deadline.”"
We have spent so much time talking about possible destinations for Zobrist and Price that it seems hard to believe they might actually stay with the Rays. But if the team keeps winning, that might actually happen.