"Trade strings" are trades that eventually result in future trades. And then those trades beget future trades. And so on and so forth down the road until eventually, a prospect or two doesn't pan out and the trade string fades. Theoretically, if a team was exceptionally good at evaluating talent and got lucky in some trades, a team could keep one player's peak talent within their system for decades, even long after that original player had declined and fallen out of baseball.
Since the Rays are a young organization and didn't complete many trades until the new ownership took over, the Rays have very few long trade strings. That said, there are a couple trade strings that have become especially fruitful for the Rays, giving them renewed waves of talent every couple of years. One of these successful strings just got longer, so let's take a look at it:
The numbers for Delmon, Bartlett, and Garza represent what those players produced (and cost) after they were traded to their new team. The descriptions under Russell, Ramos, Gomes, and Figueroa list their 2010 numbers (or a close approximation). For descriptions on any of the above statistics, go here.
Pretty impressive, huh? There was lots of talk this year about how Delmon Young has resurrected his career and Garza-Young trade may turn out to be a wash, but I disagree. Even if Young becomes a superstar over these next two years of team control, the Rays have received an impressive amount of value out of Garza and Bartlett already. Young would need to dramatically improve his game - say, post 7 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) in each of the next two years - to approach the value the Rays received from Bartlett and Garza.
That's not even mentioning the recent haul of players that the Rays got for Bartlett. None of these players are top prospects or guaranteed stars, but they are all interesting players with upside. There's a chance Russell or Gomes becomes a power arm in the back of the Rays' bullpen. There's a chance Ramos becomes an effective major-league LOOGY. And there's a chance Figueroa becomes a useful role / bench player. This is quite a haul, flooding the Rays with more young, cheap talent with upside.
This chart leaves plenty of questions to mull over. Will these new players pan out? How much talent with the Rays acquire for Garza? If recent history is our guide, then we should feel confident in receiving quite a haul for Garza. I mean really, remember this?