'Money won't be an object' for Rays … maybe

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Earlier Tuesday there was a report that the Tampa Bay Rays might be in on the chase for Cliff Lee. Later on, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg (pictured) was talking big about his budget and how even though it is “beyond stretched,” he was willing to open the purse strings. From Marc Topkin:

Asked if the Rays could make a “significant” addition, Sternberg replied: “By any means necessary. We’ll do whatever — money won’t be an object. Players are always an object for us. And the money will be an impediment, but we’ll figure it out if it makes all the sense in the world for this team.”

“Any means necessary!” How exciting for Rays fans. Well wait a minute. Hold on. What was that thing he said about an “impediment?”

Clarifying further on the money quote, Sternberg said, “it’s an impediment, it’s certainly a large impediment. And (Andrew) reminds me of what it means for the future because basically what it is is you’re borrowing from the future on your chances this year and possibly recouping some of it. But that’s not a business plan to say we’re going to play five- and seven-game series right through the end of the World Series, it’s not something you can count on.”

Oh.

So what does it all mean? Are the Rays willing to spend money or not? Will they deal prospects for a player like Lee? Perhaps. After all, a half-season of Lee would only cost the Rays about $4 million, and then they can let him walk as a Type A free agent after the season and net a pair of draft picks. That could make some sense.

But the Rays aren’t going to go wild chasing pricey players with long-term contracts. In fact, they might not do anything at all. Remember, they were saying these sorts of things last year as well.

The words “by any means necessary” just carry a lot more credibility coming out of the mouth of something like, say, Brian Cashman.

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Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays; Yankees land Brandon Drury

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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.