As MLB’s trade deadline nears, many here in the Bay area are wondering if they saw the last of SP David Price in a Rays uniform as he doffed his cap to a standing ovation last Wednesday while walking off the field after an 11-strikeout pitching performance that helped the Rays avoid getting swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates. At this hour, Price is still a member of the team, but all this uncertainty provides an opportunity to look back in Rays history at other trades that helped define the team throughout its relatively short history …
5. 2003 – Devil Rays trade OF Randy Winn to Seattle Mariners for rights to hire manager Lou Pinella
At the time, it seemed like just the move the Devil Rays needed to make to right the ship after a season that still has the distinction of being its most disastrous. Winn had come up with the Rays in ’99 and was an impact player that made him desirable to the Mariners. “Sweet Lou” was one of the majors most respected managers, and a Tampa native. Pinella went on to bring the Devil Rays some success, but arguably never lived up to the hopes his arrival inspired.
4. 2004 – Devil Rays trade 1b/DH Aubrey Huff to the Houston Astros for Ben Zobrist
Huff provided big hits as a DH/1B in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays lineup from 2000-2006, so when he was traded to the Astros for two minor leaguers, fans wondered who would step up to replace that production at the plate. Thankfully, one of those two minor leaguers was Ben Zobrist, who since then has been voted to the MLB All-Star Team twice.
3. 2012 – Rays trade SP James Shields to Kansas City Royals for OF Wil Myers, P Jake Odorizzi
In what has become an all-too-familiar story here in Tampa Bay, the Rays ship off one of their best starting pitchers to a contending team for young unknowns. Shields was the team’s ace at the time, so the uproar among fans was only matched by the hope that something would come of the deal, and particularly of much-heralded hitting prospect Wil Myers.
2. 2011 – Rays trade SP Matt Garza to Chicago Cubs for OF Sam Fuld, prospects Chris Archer and Brandon Guyer
In a way, watching Garza leave the Rays softened the blow of Shields’ departure a year later, as fans had already come to accept that the Rays front office would be willing every time to trade high on strong pitching to bring in more young talent. In this case, Fuld would go on to be a sentimental favorite among fans during his time with the Rays, while Archer has become an effective starting pitcher.
1. 5. 2004 – Rays trade SP Victor Zambrano to NY Mets for SP Scott Kazmir
It’s a deal that NY Mets fans still bemoan as an example of their franchise’s front office incompetence. Zambrano led the AL in walks, wild pitches, and hit batsmen at the time the NY Mets dealt for him in 2004, and in return for this Devil Rays version of “Wild Thing” they sent a young pitching prospect named Scott Kazmir. Zambrano would play for the Mets for two seasons before needing Tommy John surgery, while Kazmir would go on to lead the AL in strikeouts in 2007 and make the AL All-Star Team twice during his time in Tampa Bay, in 2006 and 2008.