Rays rumors: Tampa Bay shopping for relief help

John E. Sokolowski-US PRESSWIRE

GM Andrew Friedman is on the lookout for one or two arms to bolster the club's bullpen.

The Tampa Bay Rays had one of the best bullpens in baseball last year, anchored (surprisingly) by closer Fernando Rodney. Most of their bullpen arms will be back for 2013, but the loss of Burke Badenhop -- and the potential partings of Kyle Farnsworth and J.P. Howell -- has the club searching for one or two pitchers, reports Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times:

[Rays GM Andrew] Friedman said they're still looking for one or two relievers, and he has a track record of acquiring quality arms for the bullpen...

If the Rays stay in-house, RHP Brandon Gomes could slide in, and whichever starter ends up out of the rotation ([RHP Roberto] Hernandez, RHP Alex Cobb, RHP Chris Archer) may be an option in relief.

"We're going to be a championship caliber (bullpen)," [pitching coach Jim] Hickey said. "We just don't know all the pieces."

Hickey iterated that he does not expect his bullpen corps to repeat their stellar 2012 season -- they posted a 2.88 ERA overall -- but the coach does have high hopes for the squad, stating they would be "playoff-caliber good."

It was rumored a while back that the left-hander Howell was interested in returning to the Rays, but at last report Tampa Bay was not one of the five clubs pursuing the southpaw.

Friedman has a solid track record of getting plus performances out of low-cost relievers -- e.g. Rodney and Farnsworth -- so it is unlikely the Rays will spend a lot to get the bullpen arms they need.

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