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Mets acquire Rich Hill from the Rays

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The Rays cannot simply be buyers.

Tampa Bay Rays v Atlanta Braves Photo by Edward M. Pio Roda/Getty Images

Less than 24 hours after trading for Nelson Cruz, the Rays have dealt Rich Hill to the Mets in exchange for reliever Tommy Hunter and minor league catcher Matt Dyer. This isn’t the kind of trade that will radically realign the division races for either side, but it still has interesting implications.

The Mets have been desperate for starting pitching with Jacob deGrom, Joey Lucchesi, and Carlos Carrasco among others on the injured list. Hill’s numbers don’t indicate that he’ll carry the rotation into October; in 95 13 innings, Hill has a 3.87 ERA and a 4.55 FIP. Hill can, however, fill out the back of the rotation and eat innings.

Hill’s having a good enough year that it makes one wonder why the Rays thought they could live without him. The Rays are one game behind the Red Sox in the AL East, and they have a 2.5 game lead for the first Wild Card spot. That success comes despite ho-hum performances from their starting pitching.

Tampa Bay’s rotation ranks in the middle of the pack with a collective 3.97 FIP and 6.8 fWAR. That’s with Tyler Glasnow’s stellar 88 innings in which he posted 2.5 of those wins. Only Ryan Yarbrough had more innings than Hill, and the Rays will have to replace that workload somehow.

The Rays are now looking at a rotation of Yarbrough, Shane McLanahan, Luis Patiño, Josh Fleming, and Michael Wacha. Brent Honeywell Jr. and Chris Mazza represent options in the minors should any of the five struggle or get hurt. It’s also possible that Shane Baz could get promoted following his participation in the Olympics. The Rays have the depth on paper, but Dick Mountain was the bird in the hand.

New York’s search for rotation help likely isn’t over with a week left before the trade deadline. Again, they have an entire rotation on the IL. Chris McShane at Amazin’ Avenue identified Kenta Maeda, Tyler Anderson, Merrill Kelly, and Jon Gray as possible targets. If the Mets also want to swing a trade for Kris Bryant, they’re probably out on non-rentals like José Berríos.

The Mets have a four-game lead over both Atlanta and Philadelphia in the NL East. If New York is to make it to the postseason, they will most likely have to win their division. The two Wild Card spots appear destined to go to the two runners up in the NL West. Philadelphia has yet to make a move, but Atlanta has acquired Joc Pederson and Stephen Vogt already.

Heading back to Tampa Bay in the trade are Tommy Hunter and Matt Dyer. Hunter is currently on the IL and appears to be more of a financial counterweight. Dyer had a .194/.329/.452 slash line in 152 plate appearances at Low-A St. Lucie.

Kenny Kelly is the managing editor of Beyond the Box Score.