Tag Archives: Trade deadline

David Price Traded to Detroit Tigers in Latest Rays Pitcher Salary Dump

Another non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone in Major League Baseball.

As is the case every year when Major League Baseball’s Silly Season concludes there were winners and losers with the rich in talent teams getting richer and the rebuilding teams continuing to rebuild.

Each year teams are labeled as either buyers or sellers at the deadline as they seek to either add players to help them in the short term or trade away players for prospects that they hope can help them in the long term.

What is often lost in the midst of the trade deadline are the teams that are caught in the middle of having the record to be deemed a contender and those that are in wait until next year mode.

The Tampa Bay Rays, who were considered by some experts to be World Series favorites at the start of the season, found themselves in the murky middle ground when it came to their ace pitcher David Price.

David Price, the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner was traded to the Detroit Tigers Thursday afternoon. Photo R. Anderson
David Price, the 2012 American League Cy Young Award winner, was traded to the Detroit Tigers Thursday afternoon.
Photo R. Anderson

Many teams would give their left arms for a chance to add the former Cy Young Winner to their rotation but with the Rays overcoming a rough start to the season to finally play solid baseball which has them only eight games out of first place in the division, and about five games out of a Wild Card spot, one could argue that Price was needed to make a valid postseason run.

Repeatedly team management stated that it would take an epic “knock their socks off” offer from a team that included several top tier prospects to make them part with their ace at the deadline.

In the end the Rays traded Price to the Detroit Tigers for a less than sock losing trio of players that appear to have far less upside at the moment than Price.

With the trade the Tigers now have three Cy Young winners in their rotation and seem destined for another American League Championship Series showdown with the Oakland Athletics who also added depth to their rotation prior to the trade deadline.

Trades in baseball are nothing new but when a team trades away a fan favorite and leader in the clubhouse, such as Price who spent seven seasons with the Rays, there is always bound to be push back from the fans.

As expected when news broke that Price had been traded, many fans filled team message boards with angry comments saying that they were done supporting the Rays. Others asked how they could have traded Price for so little in return.

The answer to why the trade was made comes down to economics. The Rays have a long history of trading their aces when they are due big raises in free agency since Tampa Bay does not have the payroll flexibility to match many other teams when it comes to salary offers.

David Price (far right) anchored the Tampa Bay Rays pitching staff and became the latest ace to be traded by the Rays. Time will tell which pitcher picks up the slack and leads the staff with Price gone. Photo R. Anderson
David Price (far right) anchored the Tampa Bay Rays pitching staff and became the latest ace to be traded by the Rays. Time will tell which pitcher picks up the slack and leads the staff with Price gone.
Photo R. Anderson

David Price just becomes the latest pitcher to be traded by the Rays joining Matt Garza, Scott Kazmir, and James Shields. What makes the Price trade different is the fact that it came in the middle of the season while the Rays were still driving for the playoffs.

Previous trades of pitchers and other impact players were usually made during the offseason.

In reality the Rays still faced a tough task in making the playoffs even with Price since the Orioles were winning just as many games as the Rays making it impossible to cut into Baltimore’s division lead.

But the Rays certainly still had a shot at making the postseason. Trading Price away during that run will likely affect clubhouse morale as well as well as fan reaction to the perception that the Rays have given up on the current season.

Many fans get heavily invested in players and when a long-time player is dealt it can feel like losing a close friend or family member.

I can still remember the disappointment I felt while sitting at Minute Maid Park a few years ago after learning that the Houston Astros had traded Lance Berkman to the New York Yankees right before he was scheduled to play. It had seemed like Berkman would spend is entire career as an Astro.

Following the announcement that David Price was traded many Rays fans stated that they would not return to Tropicana Field. It is unlikely that such a fan boycutt would have any measurable effect on the bottom line financials for the team. Photo R. Anderson.
Following the announcement that David Price was traded many Rays fans stated that they would not return to Tropicana Field. It is unlikely that such a fan boycutt would have any measurable effect on the bottom line financials for the team.
Photo R. Anderson.

The harsh reality is most teams do not base their business decisions on the desires of the average fan.

Baseball is a business and like any other business it is driven by profits and the bottom line. For baseball teams the bottom line is enhanced through corporate sponsorships, suite sales, and television revenue.

While the money generated by a fan attending the game’s in person is certainly icing on a team’s financial spreadsheet it is a mere drop in the bucket for most teams meaning that the loss of a few hundred or even a few thousand fans is not going to affect them long term.

Once of the reasons often given for any new Ballpark or stadium project is the need to add additional luxury suites to increase revenue from the corporate community. Suites equal big bucks for teams at all levels of baseball. Rarely, if ever, will a team say that they need a new facility to make more affordable family seating in the outfield.

While those shots of happy families eating cotton candy look great on television, the fact remains most teams would prefer to have a Ballpark full of corporate clients spending big bucks on suites as opposed to stands full of families.

That is just the reality of the game and fans can either accept that fact to continue to have their hearts broken whenever a favorite player is traded away.

The days of a player spending their entire career with a single team and retiring to either become the manager of the team or a broadcaster covering the games are very likely behind us.

In fact, when the farewell tour of Derek Jeter’s 20 years in Yankee pinstripes is over it is likely that there will never be another player to spend two decades with the same team.

Alex Cobb will likely be one of the key pieces of any future success of the Tampa Bay Rays following the trade of staff ace David Price. Photo R. Anderson
Alex Cobb will likely be one of the key pieces of any future success of the Tampa Bay Rays following the trade of staff ace David Price.
Photo R. Anderson

Time will tell if the fans boycott Tropicana Field the rest of the season as some have suggested in response to the Price trade.

Attendance at the Trop, and the desire for a new stadium, will likely continue to be a hot topic between St. Petersburg officials and team ownership this off season as has been the case for several years now.

But as long as the high rollers keep going to the Ballpark and filling the suites the loss of some disgruntled fans is not going to affect the Rays pocket books.

Welcome to the new reality of baseball where the bottom line trumps the box score every time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to see how DJ Kitty is handling the news.

Copyright 2014 R. Anderson

The Day That Separates the Contenders from the Pretenders

Today at 4 p.m. Eastern Time marks the Non-waiver Trade deadline for Major League Baseball.

This magic day is when teams that feel like they are missing one or two pieces to make a run deep into the playoffs make deals with teams that are nowhere near playoff level and want to shed expensive contracts and look towards the following season.

Often times a player is traded as a “50-game rental” since their contact expires at the end of the season and they will become a free agent. Other players are traded with several years left on their contract.

A third type of trade involves a player getting moved to a new team with the old team still paying a portion of the salary of the player that is no longer on their roster. I have never really understood that type of trade since I think that if a player is traded the new team should be responsible for all of the related salary.

But for the contenders the trades are deemed worthy as the hope is the player will lead them to a World Series Championship. Sometimes the late season trades work and sometimes they don’t.

For the players on the trade bubble the days and weeks leading up to today can be very stressful as they wonder where they will end up finishing the season. The pending trades of players also affects how they are used leading up to any potential trade.

With the trade deadline looming many players on the trade rumor mill were taken out of the lineup for games on trade deadline eve. After all no one wants to risk a freak injury negating a trade at the 11th hour.

After pitching on Opening Day as the ace of the staff, Bud Norris of the Houston Astros was awaiting his fate at the trade deadline. Photo R. Anderson
After pitching on Opening Day as the ace of the staff, Bud Norris of the Houston Astros was awaiting his fate at the trade deadline.
Photo R. Anderson

For the Astros this meant that Bud Norris was taken out of the rotation for his scheduled start against the Baltimore Orioles last night. It is very likely by the time you are reading this Norris will have a new team name on the front of his jersey.

While many teams from the Atlanta Braves to the Pittsburgh Pirates have been mentioned as a potential landing spot for Norris but no one seems to know for sure who the winning team will be.

The only thing certain is that much as they have the past three years the Astros want to get rid of their highest paid players and trade them for minor league prospects and this year that honor of highest paid player to get rid of falls on Norris.

I actually hope that Norris gets traded to a contender since watching him pitch a strong game only to have the bullpen blow it in the late innings is getting very painful to watch.

While I do not consider Norris the ace of a staff I think he would make a good middle of the rotation pitcher for a team with a strong rotation.

And Norris could also potentially join the list of former Astros who were traded and became World Series Champions. Lance Berkman accomplished that with the St. Louis Cardinals and Hunter Pence got his ring with the San Francisco Giants. So it definitely seems like if a player wants to win their best bet is to be traded.

Carlos Lee was traded from the Houston Astros to the Miami Marlins at the trade deadline last year as part of an annual housecleaning and payroll dump that has become commonplace at Minute Maid Park. Photo R. Anderson
Carlos Lee was traded from the Houston Astros to the Miami Marlins at the trade deadline last year as part of an annual housecleaning and payroll dump that has become commonplace at Minute Maid Park.
Photo R. Anderson

While the final destination for Norris remains up in the air at the time of this writing the Astros have already been active in the trade market. In fact, earlier in the week Astros closer Jose Veras was traded to the Detroit Tigers for some Class-A level talent that may or may not ever see a Major League game.

Of course one could certainly argue that as bad as the Astros have been this season they really didn’t need a closer anyway since the number of games that they were in a save situation was certainly a small number.

So the closer was sent away and an already porous bullpen was asked to try to pull together and not blow so many leads.

That is the risk teams take in the trade the present and hope for a brighter future philosophy.

The Pirates have used that model for over two decades before finally posting winning records. To put that in perspective there were people who were born and graduated community college without ever seeing the pirates have a winning record.

While the Astros have not had quite as many years of futility so far there is very little to give one much confidence of that changing any time soon. So the process of acting as a feeder club to the contenders while rolling the dice on unproven talent will continue for the foreseeable future.

And with far more pretenders than contenders each year the non-waiver trade game will continue year after year until a time when the playing field is more level between the haves and the have nots.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I am off to check the wire to see what washed up prospects the Astros are targeting next.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson