Andrew Friedman and the Tampa Bay Rays are, quite simply, relentless. Whether it is evidenced by not making trades at so many previous deadlines, or by trading Scott Kazmir and James Big Game Shields at the height of their Tampa Bay popularity, then continuing a march toward playoff contention and several appearances, everything about this team and this front office is remarkably consistent.
The Rays had a price to pay for anyone who wished to acquire their incredibly gifted, young southpaw -- a former CY Young winner and current CY Young contender -- for a playoff push, another year, and the first ticket in line for an opportunity at an extension. And after a summer of whispers that LA was considering two of their top three prospects, or that the Cardinals might be tempted to send off future-star Oscar Taveras, the Rays have finally pulled the trigger.
You had to blow Andrew Friedman and Co. away if you wanted David Price, and apparently the meant Drew Smyly and Nick Franklin. Oh, and an eighteen year-old short stop from Detroit's barren system.
Prospects are never a guarantee; guys with proven major league experience are maybe a better bet. Look no further than Reid Brignac on that matter, a top prospect who couldn't swing it at a high level. So instead of prospects, the Rays have bet on a back-end starter, a possible future Ben Zobrist, and an eighteen year old you've never heard of.
To be fair, Drew Smyly is sneaky good, and the overall dropoff in the rotation will not be severe. Ian will have more on that momentarily. But for now, I'm devastated.
Prospects are a risk, but they hold so much promise, so much hope. Think back to the Matt Garza trade. If three of those four prospects are never grievously injured, they are contributing to this Rays roster today at a high level. I believed in those names, even though it never came to fruition.
I do not believe in Nick Franklin. Not today, not after how swimmingly Logan Forsythe's campaign has gone. The ginger beard helps, but we're going after the playoffs, not 81 wins.
Then there's the young short stop Adames. I'm sure he has upside, but when you're dealing with an organization known for it's scouting ability above all else, why would they give up a piece with enough upside to make this deal worth the cost we've heard about for ages?
And of course there is the departure of King David, our Cy Young award winner and staff ace. When asked what he felt this afternoon, he said there was "absolutely sadness" in his heart. There's something especially rough about losing one of the faces of your franchise, in a year when the Rays were expected to compete.
This wasn't a fire sale, though. The Rays only traded away their best pitcher, and they got a return like he was John Lackey. I just downed an old fashioned without the sugar, and even that was more palatable than a world in which that last statement was possibly fair in 2014.
We have to ask in this moment, when the Rays are trading a lot of talent for what looks like salary control in a recently demoted infielder and a fifth starter, was this move about the money, and Price's impending $20M next year? What did the owner have to say immediately afterward?
More #Rays Sternberg: "These are difficult decisions we are forced to confront. Our fans have come to understand that reality ...— RMooneyTBO (@RMooneyTBO) July 31, 2014
More #Rays Sternberg: "... just as our organization has learned to operate with the challenges posed by the economic model ...— RMooneyTBO (@RMooneyTBO) July 31, 2014
More #Rays Sternberg: " ... and the growing disparity in our sport."— RMooneyTBO (@RMooneyTBO) July 31, 2014
Is it? You tell me.
Even then, how close can the Rays come to winning it all and still fall away? Why trade only David Price if you were giving up?
The odds of Tampa Bay finding post-season contention were somewhere between 10-20% this morning, and rising given the team's winning ways. If you're saying the season is lost, why not send off all the expiring pieces and tradable assets you can? Ben Zobrist appears to still be in uniform, so does the bullpen, and I can feel the gravitational pull of Jose Molina from my vacation spot up here in Maine. It's still pointing due south to Tampa Bay.
If you are not in contention, sell what's reasonable and bring in the best you can. If you are still in contention, go and get the pieces you need to win! In 2010 the Rays neglected to land Cliff Lee, and I still haven't forgiven them. The bullpen acquisitions of 2013 likewise floundered, and the Rays succumbed.
There have not been any rings on any fingers, other than the players' girlfriends, since 2008. How will trading our ace get us there?