Rays trade away their present for a better future

by Gary Shelton on August 2, 2016 · 1 comment

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Matt Moore had become the Rays' best pitcher, but at a price./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Matt Moore had become the Rays' best pitcher, but at a price./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Monday, 6 a.m.

The Tampa Bay Rays traded today for tomorrow.

I am sure, this time, they expect it to turn out better.

The Rays traded present-tense for future. They traded a few years from now for money they prefer not to pay. They traded veterans on a team that was going nowhere for youngsters on teams whose future is still to be determined. They traded what's left of 2016 toward 2020.

And Matt Duffy.

The Rays got a little poorer for the right now Monday. They traded their best

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Pearce returns to Baltimore for minor-league catcher./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Pearce returns to Baltimore for minor-league catcher./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

pitcher, one of their best hitters and the best guy with the unique skill of getting hit by a baseball for a guy named for a Batman character and few guys we hope are not out of the Invisible Man series.

But for right now, the still-bad Rays got a little worse. And if that doesn't make you shudder, what will?

Oh, I know. The Rays also saved roughly $11 million, and they couldn't afford to stay pat with players who will be in retirement homes by the time this team gets around to being good. Pearce was having a good year, but he isn't an important piece. Moore is a .500 pitcher who looked better in these surroundings. Guyer, a good guy, wasn't anything special. You really couldn't blame a last-place team for shaking things up, especially in the name of saving coin.

So why didn't more players go? Just a guess, but I'd say the Rays had a higher grade on Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly and Chris Archer than contending teams had. The Rays aren't a big team for moving guys at their worst periods; the return is a steal-you-wallet kind of trade that teams live to regret during comeback times.

I still think Evan Longoria is the face of this franchise. Kevin Kiermaier is untouchable. And what is someone going to give for others. They know the Rays are in last place. They can read batting averages and strikeout stats.

Buyer went to Cleveland for two minor leaguers./TRAVIS  PENDERGRASS

Buyer went to Cleveland for two minor leaguers./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

My problem with the way the Rays operate at the trading deadline — all of them — is this. The Rays are always trading into the future, it seems. They're telling fans that the right now doesn't matter nearly as much as four-five years from how. You just hang on.

Egad.

Yeah, yeah. I know the team draws squat. No one likes to hear about it, but it has to be a factor in the team's trade approach. When a team draws 16,986 – easily the last-place team in attendance — it doesn't mean the team can afford to hang onto non-essential players in a wasted season.

It was finances that led to the Rays trading James Shields. And David Price. And Ben Zobrist. And so on.

So what did the Rays get in return? They got Duffy, who isn't a bad infielder. He was second in the Rookie of the Year vote last year.

And they got a whittlin' knife for the wait.

Lucius Fox, who comes from the Giants, is hitting .207 in Class A. Jonas Heim, who comes for the Orioles, is hitting .206 in Class A. Nathan Lukes is hitting .299 in Class A. Jhonleider Salinas is 4-2 in Rookie ball. Michael Santos is 4-2 in Class A ball.

Even if you buy into their statistics, that's four or five years of waiting. That's four or five Trading Deadlines ahead.

The sad part of all of this is that the trades are demonstrative of just how flawed the Rays' drafting has been lately. They're having to supplement their farm system with guys from other teams.

But it's okay. Eventually, these players will grow up, and they'll reach the majors. Who knows? Maybe they'll get to be decent.

At which case, of course, the Rays will trade them away.

For minor leaguers.

Matt Duffy celebrates a homer against the Rays earlier in the season./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Matt Duffy celebrates a homer against the Rays earlier in the season./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Larry Beller August 2, 2016 at 8:26 am

I think you nailed it Gary. The Rays are in a constant cycle of developing young players that they acquire from other places because they can’t draft and develop their own guys. Then once the few guys who make it to the big leagues reach a certain threshold of payroll which the Rays feel they can no longer afford they trade them off. Kind of sounds like the Wall street commodities market where the Rays ownership & front office guys come from. Trade, trade, trade. Claim that the future will be better. Hope to catch lightning in a bottle for a magical year (2008). Remake the team each year with younger, cheaper talent. As a baseball fan I can’t live with that. I’m looking for another team to root for. What the Rays are doing is garbage.

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