Let’s make a deal

The Tampa Bay Rays were very active during this year’s MLB trade deadline.


Trade acquisition Tyler Glasnow shut down the AL Central leading Cleveland Indians, throwing seven one-run innings on August 31st.

Bennett Carollo, Staff Writer

The Tampa Bay Rays team that will finish off the regular season on September 30th will look very different than the squad that took the field on Opening Day way back on March 29th and almost unrecognizable from the 2017 team. Anyone who has been following the team over the last year will know that this is because of the high amount of trades and overall personnel changes that the Rays and general manager Erik Neander have been involved in. This trend began last offseason when players like Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi, Alex Cobb, Logan Morrison, Evan Longoria, and Steven Souza Jr. were all either traded or let walk. This was met by outrage from much of the fan base at the time, which is an understandable reaction from casual fans who saw the changes as a “salary dump” or “tanking” or who were just sad to see their favorite player go. However, these fans failed to see the big picture, as the Rays continued to build up their farm system, which was ranked fourth in the MLB before the season began, with an eye towards contending with heavyweights like the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in the very near future.

At the 2018 trade deadline, Tampa Bay continued to load up for 2019 and beyond by trading away veterans Matt Andriese, Nate Eovaldi, Wilson Ramos, and Chris Archer.

The biggest of these trades was no doubt the shipping of Archer to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Although Archer is a decent pitcher with multiple years of team control left on his contract, he has never been able to recreate the success he had early on in his career and the return offered by Pittsburgh was too good to pass up. That return included high-upside and 6’8” starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow and talented outfielder Austin Meadows. Similarly to the returns the Rays have gotten in many of their other trades, Glasnow and Meadows are both prospects that are at or near being MLB ready, showing that Tampa Bay has their eye on contending very soon. Glasnow joined the big league club immediately after the trade and has showed glimpses of his potential with a 5.17 ERA in 31.1 innings and a dazzling 40 strikeouts. Meadows was assigned to Triple A Durham, where he has excelled.

Speaking of MLB ready players, the undoubtedly most surprising trade the Rays made at the deadline was the exchange of three prospects to the St. Louis Cardinals for veteran outfielder Tommy Pham. If this doesn’t silence those who have called foul on Tampa Bay’s roster overhaul, I don’t know what will. The addition of Pham further shows that the team seeks to win in 2019. In fact, Pham has already helped Tampa Bay do some winning in 2018, as he has compiled a .308 batting average with ten RBIs in 17 games.

Veteran catcher Ramos was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for cash or a player to be named later. The Rays, however, wasted no time replacing him. The trade of Andriese to the Arizona Diamondbacks brought back seemingly insignificant prospect pieces Michael Perez and Brian Shaffer. Nonetheless, Perez (a catcher) was immediately brought up to the MLB team to fill the void left by Ramos and he has been something of a revelation for the Rays, hitting .284 in 24 games thus far with the team.

While it was expected that the rays would trade Eovaldi, it was unusual for Tampa Bay to send him to an AL East division rival, the Red Sox. However, it is the Rays who have gotten the last laugh in this deal, as the pitcher they got in return from Boston, Jalen Beeks, has already pitched against his former team twice and has earned the win in both games.

Even as the Rays have had some success in 2018 and have seen early positive returns on their trades, they continue to be the laughingstock in many trade related jokes. If these people were smart, they would fear what the Rays are creating, as they continue to add pieces to a young and exciting core.