The biggest news for the Tampa Bay Rays wasn’t that they broke out of an offensive slump with a 6-4 win over the Cleveland Guardians on Saturday afternoon.
Sure, the six runs were nice for a team that entered the game with one run scored in its last 18 innings. They had scored 16 runs in their last seven games and were 1-6 in that stretch.
But something more significant happened during the game. The Rays showed they are shooting for a fourth straight postseason appearance and are not overly concerned about on the future.
Tampa Bay parted with 19-year-old catching prospect Christian Cerda in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks for veteran outfielder David Peralta.
The nine-year veteran could be in the lineup as early as Sunday when the Rays take on Cleveland in the teams’ three-game series finale in St. Petersburg, Fla.
There had been some rumors Tampa Bay was a possible destination for Washington right fielder Juan Soto, who reportedly is on the trade market. But Soto, 23, doesn’t fit Tampa Bay’s profile because the Rays’ current front office generally does not believe in players that come at a high cost.
But acquiring Peralta comes with something the Rays need right away — a proven and solid bat.
“We think he’s somebody that can kind of stabilize our lineup,” Tampa Bay general manager Peter Bendix said. “I think the fact that he has experience, that he’s been around, that he’s seen a lot of things in this game, I think balances out our group really well right now.
Peralta has spent his entire career with Arizona and has 110 home runs, 468 RBIs and a .284 batting average. In 87 games this season, Peralta is hitting .248 with 12 home runs and 41 RBIs.
With Wander Franco, Mike Zunino, Manuel Margot and Harold Ramirez out with injuries for the foreseeable future, Peralta is likely to step right into the middle of the lineup.
The Guardians will start Bryan Shaw (4-2, 5.45 ERA). In 19 career relief appearances against the Rays, Shaw is 2-1 with a 0.93 ERA.
Shaw will be going against the best the Rays have to offer in left-hander Shane McClanahan (10-3, 1.76).
The American League starter in the All-Star game, McClanahan has allowed two or fewer earned runs in his last 14 starts. Sunday marks McClanahan’s first career appearance against Cleveland.
The youngest team in the major leagues, the Guardians still are hoping to sneak into the playoffs.
They have been rumored as a possible trade destination for Oakland catcher Sean Murphy. But it’s unlikely Cleveland will part with any pieces of its nucleus — Steven Kwan, Amed Rosario, Jose Ramirez, Andres Gimenez and Josh Naylor. The Guardians could look for insurance for Naylor at first base, though.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona said Naylor was held out of Saturday’s game due to a sore ankle. Owen Miller also is day-to-day with a right forearm contusion after being hit with a pitch on Saturday, which forced him to exit the game.
“It was starting to lock up on (Miller) a little bit,” Francona said. “I don’t know if he could of swung, so that’s why we got him out.”
–Field Level Media