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Rays ‘almost certain’ to trade a starting pitcher

Tampa Bay has several arms drawing interest.

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Several Rays starters are drawing interest, and Tampa Bay is almost certain to deal a starting pitcher this winter, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan.

Teams seeking starting pitching seem to be interested in Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly because the asking price for ace Chris Archer “beyond prohibitive,” a club executive told ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Smyly drew interest in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline, but the Rays reportedly weren’t pleased with the offers for the young starting pitcher.

Cobb, 29, pitched to an 8.59 ERA and 5.60 FIP over 22.0 innings with the Rays last season. However, he posted a combined 2.82 ERA and 3.29 FIP over 309.2 innings between 2014 and 2015.

While Cobb could be an option for teams seeking starting help, Smyly might draw more interest because he won’t be eligible for free agency until 2019. However, he had a down 2016 season, pitching to a 4.88 ERA and 4.49 FIP over 175.1 innings.

With an Archer trade seemingly unrealistic, the Rays will likely move one of Cobb or Smyly to take advantage of a weak free agent pitching market.