This past weekend, the Rays traded pitcher Jake Odorizzi to the Twins for a prospect, and designated outfielder/designated hitter Corey Dickerson for assignment, still hoping to work out a trade this week.
Much of the baseball world has been puzzled by these moves, so it’s not surprising that veteran Rays players have reacted as well.
Chris Archer has taken to Twitter to share some fond memories of these teammates:
These transactions, Archer has bluntly asserted, don’t position the 2018 Rays to win more games. As he told Marc Topkin,
With both of those moves we’re not as good as we were 24 hours ago...I’ll leave it at that just because there is uncertainty. Young arms could step up. Young bats could step up and fill that position Corey was going to be in.
But as of today, our team is not quite as good as it was yesterday.
Kevin Kiermaier, who like Archer is signed to a multi-year contract, told the Tampa Bay Times that he is unhappy with the team’s direction:
#Rays Kiermaier on dumping Dickerson, Odorizzi: “I am 100 percent frustrated and very upset with the moves. No beating around the bush. It’s one of those things that makes you scratch your head, you don’t know the reasoning why.” Then said it’s his responsibility to move on.— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) February 19, 2018
Team sports are built around bonding among teammates. In baseball in particular, where the season can go eight months and you are on the field nearly every day, players must build a deep sense of camaraderie to be happy and effective. So even while they know baseball is a business, it is natural that they feel a sense of loss when a teammate is traded. You may recall Evan Longoria’s reaction to last year’s trade of Logan Forsythe.
For a few reasons, the recent transactions are likely to have affected these players more deeply than usual. First, losing a player via trade usually brings with it the gain of another player. In this case, the Odorizzi trade yielded a prospect way down the organizational chart, and the Dickerson DFA has not (yet) brought back anything. To players it must seem as though a well-liked (I assume) teammate has simply been tossed away. It’s not surprising that this leaves players wondering what kind of product the front office intends to put on the field this year.
Secondly, most Rays trades in past years have occurred well before spring training, and players come to camp already prepared to greet a new set of teammates. It must be harder for players to start camp with a teammate and then watch him pack up his locker and leave.
You can listen to Kiermaier’s full comments here:
The views expressed by Kiermaier and Archer are understandable and very human. That doesn’t mean, however, that the front office should evaluate moves in terms of their impact on the clubhouse. Players, even capable and smart players, aren’t necessarily the best judge of talent, or the best at thinking strategically about a team’s roster needs. They are often simply too close to the trees to see the forest.
Ultimately it will be the job of Kevin Cash and his coaching staff to help the players move on from this. They need to help create a sense of excitement about 2018. The focus needs to be on the assets the Rays currently have, and not on those they have lost.