Is A Jason Barlett Trade Coming Soon?

In advance of Thursday’s deadline to tender a contract offer to arbitration-eligible players, the trade rumors surrounding Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett are heating up. With Bartlett on the wrong side of age 30, and schedule to receive a raise on the $4 million he made in 2010, the Rays are primed to move the former team MVP and hand the reins over to the younger, cheaper, and more talented Reid Brignac.

Thus far, the Baltimore Orioles, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, and Pittsburgh Pirates reportedly have expressed interest in the services of Bartlett. Despite his numbers taking a steep hit from 2009 to 2010, the current crop of available shortstops is a very weak one.

Bartlett’s peak trade value was a year ago; however, this shallow market works in the Rays’ favor. Should they find a suitable deal for Bartlett they can make it right now. If not, they can still tender him a contract and continue to negotiate with other teams. Like every other potential trade, the Rays will deal on their terms.

While the New York Yankees and Derek Jeter continue to play hardball with each other, 30-something Juan Uribe signed a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers worth $21 million dollars on Monday. Like Brignac for the Rays, Bartlett presents a younger, cheaper option than some of the alternatives for teams searching for a shortstop.

While the Rays traditionally keep their trade demands close to the vest, everyone knows the club is looking for young, team controlled relief options. Of the teams with reported interest, each has a young pitcher or two that should interest Tampa Bay. Names like: David Hernandez (reportedly named in talked with the Orioles), Sergio Romo (Giants), Santiago Casilla (Giants) Fernando Salas (Cardinals),and Ernesto Frieri (Padres) are the types of arms the Rays should be targeting in return for Bartlett.

Continue listening on ESPN 1040 AM and checking back here as we continue to watch the Bartlett trade situation.