What Will It Take for the Rays to Trade Isaac Paredes?

A suitor who wants to land Isaac Paredes is going to have to blow the Rays away with an offer for the All-Star third baseman.

Isaac Paredes of the Tampa Bay Rays rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field.
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - JUNE 21: Isaac Paredes #17 of the Tampa Bay Rays rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Tropicana Field on June 21, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

It’s the week before the All-Star break. The Tampa Bay Rays are 12 games out in the AL East and 5.5 games back of the final AL Wild Card spot.

They’re only one game under .500, but their run differential is a putrid -65. Only the five worst teams in baseball (you don’t need me to tell you who they are) have been outscored by a wider margin.

According to Pythagorean win-loss expectation, the Rays have actually been one of the luckiest teams in the league. Their 45-46 record is six games better than their 39-52 Pythagorean record. That probably has something to do with a 16-8 (.667) record in one-run games and a 6-3 (.667) record in extra innings.

All this to say, the Rays are already pretty far back from a postseason berth, and the way they’re playing doesn’t inspire much confidence they’ll be able to turn things around in the second half. FanGraphs has their playoff odds at just 15%. PECOTA puts their odds even lower: 8.3% as of today.

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Tampa Bay’s chances of winning the AL East are all but zero. The Rays are still in the Wild Card race, but they’d have to jump past at least two of the Twins, Red Sox, Royals, and Astros to make the playoffs. All four of those teams are playing much better baseball.

Therefore, it probably makes sense for the Rays to sell at the deadline. It’s hard to believe I’m saying this about a team that won 99 games just last season, but it’s true.

This organization certainly is not afraid to sell. They’ve already traded Aaron Civale and Phil Maton this month, and they’ve traded bigger pieces amid more competitive seasons in the recent past.

However, the Rays don’t necessarily have much more to sell this summer. Starting pitcher Zach Eflin is a trade chip, but given his extensive injury history and the raise he’s due to receive next season, he’s not going to bring back a massive return. You could make a similar point about second baseman Brandon Lowe.

Meanwhile, Yandy Díaz and Randy Arozarena would be much more coveted trade candidates if they weren’t having such disappointing seasons. They have both played better as of late, but still, the Rays would be selling low on a pair of All-Stars if they dealt them right now.

Thus, if the Rays truly want to cash in on what will surely be a seller’s market (especially for bats), their best option is to trade All-Star third baseman Isaac Paredes.

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Paredes has 15 home runs, a 139 wRC+, and 2.8 fWAR this season. He was recently named to his first All-Star team. Over the past two seasons, he ranks 11th among qualified AL batters in wRC+ and fWAR.

As if that wouldn’t be enough to make him a valuable asset at the deadline, Paredes is only making $3.4 million this season in his first year of arbitration. As a super-two player, he has three more full seasons of arbitration eligibility remaining. The 25-year-old is under team control through the 2027 campaign.

Given his talent, youth, and contract status, he would easily be the most valuable player on the trade market. The Rays could command a haul.

Yet for many of those same reasons, the Rays might be hesitant to part with their best player. Paredes will still command a haul this coming offseason or next summer. If anything, he could increase his trade value if he continues to play at this level.

More to the point, the Rays have time before Paredes becomes “expensive” in arbitration. If his salary doubles this winter, he would still only make $6.8 million next season. That’s less than Eflin, Lowe, Díaz, and Arozarena are making right now.

Finally, the Rays also have time before Paredes’ replacement(s) will be knocking on the big league door. Junior Caminero or Curtis Mead could be this team’s third baseman of the future, but neither is forcing the issue quite yet.

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That being the case, president of baseball operations Erik Neander isn’t facing any pressure to trade Paredes this summer – unless ownership is demanding he do something to make the most of a disappointing season.

However, I would think Neander has earned ownership’s trust after so many years in the organization. Thus, I wouldn’t expect him to trade Paredes right now unless it’s the best move for the team long-term.

And, what if it is the best move for the team in the long run? For that to be the case, Neander would have to love the return package. Any potential suitor is going to have to blow the Rays away with an offer to land their All-Star third baseman.

So, will any team be willing to do what it takes to convince the Rays to trade Isaac Paredes? I’m not so sure, but here are five clubs that could give it a try.

Isaac Paredes: Five Best Trade Fits at the Deadline

Seattle Mariners

Here’s what we know:

  1. The Mariners were linked to Paredes over the offseason.
  2. POBO Jerry Dipoto is planning to add an everyday bat before the trade deadline.
  3. Mariners third basemen have a 92 wRC+ this season.

The fit is there, and the Mariners are holding onto the slimmest division lead in the league right now.

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Houston Astros

Here’s what we know:

  1. The Astros are seeking an impact bat to play first base.
  2. Houston might need a new third baseman next season if Alex Bregman leaves in free agency.
  3. Paredes can play first base this season and move back to third in 2025.

The fit isn’t totally clean, especially if the Astros are holding out hope of extending Bregman. At the same time, if the Astros are holding out hope of extending their ALCS appearance streak, an upgrade like Paredes would be a big help.

New York Yankees

Here’s what we know:

  1. The Yankees are slipping behind the Orioles in the AL East race.
  2. The Yankees need to lengthen their lineup behind Aaron Judge and Juan Soto.
  3. DJ LeMahieu and Oswaldo Cabrera have provided next to no offense at third base this season.

Would the Rays be willing to trade Paredes to a division rival? Maybe not. But will the Yankees be desperate enough to make an enticing offer? I think the answer is yes.

San Diego Padres

Here’s what we know:

  1. The Padres could use an upgrade at DH and another third baseman to give Manny Machado some time off his feet.
  2. The Padres are trying to pull ahead in a crowded NL Wild Card race.
  3. Never say never when it comes to A.J. Preller making a big trade to add a former shortstop.

The Padres have already pulled off some pretty big trades this year, so don’t count them out for another. Paredes would make a big difference as the Padres try to separate themselves from teams like the Cardinals, Mets, D-backs, and Giants.

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Arizona Diamondbacks

Here’s what we know:

  1. Eugenio Suárez has not worked out for the D-backs this year.
  2. The reigning NL champs are trying to get back into contention.
  3. Adding Isaac Paredes could help soften the blow of potentially losing first baseman Christian Walker in free agency this coming winter.

The fit for Paredes in Arizona might be stronger than anywhere else. General manager Mike Hazen hasn’t committed to adding at the deadline yet, but it would be really disappointing if last year’s NL pennant winners don’t even make a serious effort to get back to the postseason.