Quietly hidden away in the circus tent that is Tropicana Field is Alex Colome, the Tampa Rays closer in the absence of last year’s AL saves leader Brad Boxberger. At the age of 27, Colome is secretly putting up an exceptional year, including a 1.23 ERA, a 11.86 K/9, and 12 for 12 on saves. Colome’s time as a closer may be coming to a close soon as Brad Boxberger returns to the roster this weekend. While Colome isn’t going to be immediately bumped out of the closer role, he eventually will in favor of Boxberger. From this point the Rays could move Colome into more of a setup reliever role but Erasmo Ramirez and Enny Romero are there and not using one of those three in the setup roles would be a waster of their talent. This presents the Rays with an opportunity: trade Colome.
Colome has shown the skill and poise to be a quality closer this year, he also has shown in the past that he can make it as a long reliever and slightly below average 5th starter. This versatility should scream trade target to teams like the Rangers and the Giants who are in serious playoff contention but have a bottom 10 reliever ERA (especially Texas, who’s saves leader has a 10.13 ERA). Colome’s mix of a good fastball, excellent cutter, and decent curveball and changeup presents a high quality, top of the pen arm for a serious contender.
The benefit for the Rays in a trade like this would be opening the closer spot again for Boxberger as well sell high on a trade asset, like how they usually do (see Jake McGee, James Shields, Matt Garza, Alex Torres, and Scott Kazmir). One example of this selling high on a bullpen arm is Alex Torres, who the Rays traded to the Padres before the 2014 season along with Jesse Hahn (at the time Torres was considered the top prize for the Padres in the deal) for 5th starter Matt Andriese, second basemen Logan Forsythe, and returning closer Brad Boxberger, a deal which the Padres definitely wish they could undo. In deals like that the Rays have shown they are willing to trade top bullpen arms at high prices as Torres in 2013 had a 1.71 ERA before being traded in the offseason. While this might be early in the season to sell off a high value asset, his value may never be higher.
The benefit involved for a team like the Rangers or Giants would be a strong and versatile bullpen arm that could be instantly slotted into the closer role if needed as he already has experience at the high pressure position. A team like the Rangers might be willing to give up prospects like Jose Trevino (C), Yeyson Yrizarri (SS), Yohander Mendez (RP/SP), or Ryan Cordell (OF) all of which have promise but potentially big downsides, a trait usually involved in reliever for prospect trades. The Rangers should definitely be a team that is willing to make this trade as both Sam Dyson or Shawn Tolleson may not be the one they really want to put on the mound in the 9th. On top of this instant closer opportunity for these teams, Colome would be payed league minimum. This presents a long term solution for closer as he is a 27 year old closer who hasn’t even hit arbitration yet, the cost for a team may be high for Colome but he is a long term solution for teams.