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Tuesday, Jan 23, 2018
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GMs-turned-pundits believe now may be the time for Rays to sell

LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays have been doing a lot of talking, making another small deal Tuesday while still working toward bigger ones of a still-being-determined degree.

And there have been a lot of baseball people at the winter meetings talking about them, especially on whether they should make just a few trades and keep what’s left of their 80-82 team intact or sell off their big names, starting with Evan Longoria and Chris Archer, in going for a rebuild.

We asked four former GMs, all still involved in the game as media analysts, what they would do. If Rays officials come to a similar conclusion, it will be a busy next few weeks as the consensus is to sell hard, with Archer — under control for four years at a bargain $34 million — atop the list.

(RELATED: The Yankees’ new Death Star could prompt the Rays to surrender)

Here are excerpts of what they had to say:

STEVE PHILLIPS

Former Mets GM; current SiriusXM radio host

I’d trade ’em all, I really would. I don’t see them having the true ability to compete in that division, let alone for a wild card. With Longoria being a couple days (into the season) from being a 10-and-5 (player, and getting no-trade rights) they can’t afford not to rebuild right now and have him off their books as he starts to age. I love him as a guy, I love him as a player but I just have some doubts as to how long he can sustain it. …

I love Chris Archer, I’d take him on my team, but he has a 4.00 ERA the last two years. It’s a valuable contract, but if you want to get premium return, now’s the time. Because if he takes another step back, then you’re not going to get nearly the return that you’d want.

I really do think they should do the complete overhaul, rebuild right now. … Staying in the middle doesn’t do them any good. It doesn’t get them the good draft picks. It doesn’t get them the talent they want (in trades). They’re not going to change their revenues or resources or anything else. And that’s where they are right now, just stuck in the middle.

JIM BOWDEN

Former Reds, Nationals GM; current SiriusXM radio host

You have to listen on all your star players and see if you can’t do the three-for-one, four-for-one returns. I know it would be extremely painful to trade a leader like Chris Archer and all he means and his dominant stuff, but also with the control you have with him, the trade value should be as high as any player that’s available right now in the market. If the Rays could get four pieces back for him that could significantly change the future, I think you have to listen. Same thing with Alex Colome.

I know Evan Longoria has been the face of the Rays. I know that would be painful. But when you are north of 32 and you start going the other direction, it’s much better to trade now before you get to the point where he can’t perform at the level that you’re used to.

(RELATED: Ranking the Rays most likely to be dealt)

DAN O’DOWD

Former Rockies GM; current MLB Network analyst

It’s a hard thing, 80-82. … I’m really torn on Longoria, having gone through that (trade consideration) with (Rockies cornerstone) Todd Helton. …

Archer is an interesting guy. … He’s giving you a ton of innings, but the quality of those innings — where is he evolving to as a pitcher? Is he ever going to get that next step of feel that takes him from being a good major-league starting pitcher to a front-of-the-rotation starter:? … If I could get back A, B, C or D for Archer and bring along Blake Snell, if he’s ready to take another step, or (prospect Brent) Honeywell is ready to take that step, and I can fill other holes on my ballclub, are we really worse off than we are holding on to him?

I don’t know if it’s a rebuild as much as it’s taking the assets that I’ve got and figuring out how to be playing meaningful games in September.

JIM DUQUETTE

Former Mets GM, Orioles VP; current SiriusXM radio host

I don’t usually like to react to other teams … but to me after seeing what happened with the Yankees and (Giancarlo) Stanton … go all in, move all your guys and restart it again. …

For Archer I think you could look at a Chris Sale (from White Sox to Red Sox) type of deal like you saw last year, maybe not that much but close because of how valuable that contract is. There’d be a lot of teams interested in him and the leadership that he brings in the clubhouse and his presence.

And certainly with Longoria, too, what he has left in the tank. …There’s plenty of teams out there that need third basemen. …

You could probably turn it around a little quicker with the take that you get back, like what the White Sox have done, than waiting five years and having three full seasons of 100 losses like the Astros did. If they were to do this, looking at that front office, if they did a nice job with the take coming back, I think we’d be talking about the Rays as one of the powerhouses.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_Rays

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GMs-turned-pundits believe now may be the time for Rays to sell