The trade involved six players, with SS Jason Bartlett, RHP Matt Garza, and RHP Eduardo Morlan heading to Tampa Bay, and the Rays sending OF Delmon Young, OF Jason Pridie, and SS Brendan Harris to the Twins Cities.
It was certainly a blockbuster. Delmon Young was just a year removed from being the 3rd top prospect in all of baseball and was coming from a 2007 season in which he finished runner up in the AL Rookie of the Year chase. He had all the potential in the world, but attitude issues had caused some people to sour on him. The Minnesota Twins needed an outfielder to replace Tori Hunter, and probably thought that a change of scenery could help the talented Young reach his potential.
So, the Twins pulled the trigger on the deal. The linchpin was starting pitcher, Matt Garza, who had been ranked as the Twins top prospect and as the 21st top prospect in all of baseball following 2006. He had his first full season in the majors in 2007, and although there were some stumbles, there was plenty to look forward to.
The Twins also sent Jason Bartlett, who had been slated to be their starting short stop during the 2008 season. Coming off a terrific season in 2007, Bartlett was a fantastic defender who could hit as well. The two teams swapped their starting short stops, with Brendan Harris heading to Minnesota. Harris had a career year in 2007 in which he accrued 2.4 fWAR.
Meanwhile, the two minor leaguers in the deal were tossups on how they’d turn out. The Rays sent OF Jason Pridie to Minnesota; he was coming off a terrific season in Triple-A with the Durham Bulls, but with the Rays outfield jammed up, he his opportunity in the majors would be limited. So, the Rays traded him and acquired RHP Eduardo Morlan, who had spent most of the 2007 season in High-A and looked to be a promising relief prospect.
How’d it turn out?
The Rays have come out like bandits in the deal as Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza both enjoyed immense success while within the Rays organization.
Garza would help strengthen a fantastic starting rotation, leading the Rays to post-season glory for the first time in franchise history. Garza would pitch in Game 7 of the ALCS against the Boston Red Sox and picked up the victory, for his efforts, he was named the ALCS MVP.
In the years that followed, Garza would have solid seasons and even threw the Rays first, and so far only, no-hitter in franchise history in 2010.
Bartlett meanwhile, served as a catalyst for a potent Rays offense while also playing solid defense up the middle. In 2009, he broke out and had the best season of his career as he accrued 5.2 fWAR. He followed that up with another solid, but certainly not as a great a year in 2010.
Delmon Young was a disappointment for the Twins, and the Rays success only rubbed more salt in the wound. He actually accrued -2.2 fWAR from 2008 to 2009 for Minnesota. He finally had a decent season in 2010, but by then, he had overstayed his welcome and was sent packing to the Detroit Tigers during the 2011 season for a little return that proved inconsequential.
The two minor leaguers involved in the original deal never bore much fruit for either team. Pridie eventually made it to the majors, but journeyed around a couple of teams never really having much success. Eduardo Morlan would never make it past the Double-A level from 2007 to 2011, before ultimately hanging up his spikes.
The Rays also traded away Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza following the 2010 season as the two players were getting too expensive for the budget strapped Rays. Garza in particular yielded a crop of prospects who have had (and continue to have) productive years with the Rays.
On December 17th, 2010 the Rays sent Jason Bartlett to the San Diego Padres in exchange for LHP Cesar Ramos, RHP Adam Russell, RHP Brandon Gomes, and INF Cole Figueroa.
On January 8th, 2011, the Rays sent Matt Garza, along with OF Fernando Perez and LHP Zac Rosscup, to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for SS Hak Ju Lee, OF Brandon Guyer, C Robinson Chirinos, OF Sam Fuld, and RHP Chris Archer.
That trade in November of 2007 has proven to be one of the most important deals in franchise history, helping cement the team as contenders for years to come. The Rays basically turned Delmon Young into three years of two All-Star caliber starters, and then turned them into a new crop of headliners and role players.