Just as a player seems to be entering their prime, they are sent packing out of Tampa.
The big off-season deals that the Rays seem to be part of always occur around Christmas time, and it always seems to be a fan favorite that is traded away.
Evan Longoria was traded to the Giants on December 20, 2017, for four players that never impacted the Rays at the Major League level.
At the time of the trade, Longoria had spent his entire 10-year career with the Rays.
This year, the Rays dealt Blake Snell another homegrown product and fan favorite, to the Padres on December 26.
The Rays have a funny way of saying Merry Christmas to their fans.
Evan Longoria, Will Myers, David Price, and now Blake Snell have all been traded due to financial concerns. The Rays can’t support the salary of these players once they reach stardom.
The funny thing is, most of these trades have worked out for the Rays. The players traded away have never been able to replicate the success that they had in Tampa.
In 2018 the Rays traded pitcher Chris Archer to the Pirates for three young prospects, Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows, Shane Baz.
Glasnow has become the Rays number one starter with the Blake Snell trade, and Meadows has become a fixture in the Rays outfield.
Shane Baz is still a year or so away from making the Rays pitching staff. Baz has not pitched above Class A in his minor league career.
The Pirates did not pick up Archer’s contract after going 6-16 with the Pirates.
The Rays are coming off two consecutive playoff appearances and a berth in the World Series this past season.
I can’t think of a team that has traded their number one starter coming off a World Series appearance.
It doesn’t send the right message to the baseball world nor the fans in Tampa.
Rays fans are used to it. They enjoy watching the young prospects for a couple of years. Watch as they develop into superstars, then wave goodbye because this ownership group and front office won’t pay them long term to stay in Tampa.
Would a new stadium in the right location help keep these star players in Tampa longer? No.
This is an ownership mindset, and they are not going to pay fair market value to keep the players in Tampa. They will either trade the players for prospects that most of the fans have never heard of or let them walk in free agency when their contract expires and get nothing in return.
Rays GM Erik Neander speaking to the media after the Snell trade says he is not throwing in the towel and expects the Rays to be competitive in the years to come.
“By no means is that any white flag on this season. We have a lot of confidence in the group that we have here, and we’ve got a lot of time left to continue to build this club out and get this puzzle where we want it. Our goal is to win a World Series. I Want to make that very, very clear.”
Snell’s agent Scott Boras took a shot at Ray’s management commenting on his client’s trade to San Diego. “It’s disappointing to me that a very competent baseball group moves forward in a way that they only get one shot or so a decade. “What I don’t like to see is a fan base that has a now team wake up the next day and say it is now a developmental team.”
The Rays are not as good of a team without Blake Snell. If Luis Patino can come in and contribute right away, and Cole Wilcox can develop into a good starting pitcher, you can say that the Rays came out ok in the deal.
If Patino and Wilcox develop into All-Star caliber pitchers like Blake Snell, then you can wave goodbye to them as well after two or three seasons.
The Rays have proven they will not pay top talent to stay in Tampa. And that’s what makes being a Rays fan so frustrating.