The Most Fun Trade Ever
Tampa Bay and Minnesota have finalized a trade that is, if nothing else, endlessly fascinating. Details are as follows:
Minnesota sends RHP Matt Garza, SS Jason Bartlett, and RHP Eduardo Morlan
Tampa sends OF Delmon Young, 2B/3B Brendan Harris, and OF Jason Pridie
Delmon Young is, among other things, 22 years old, supremely talented, and was the #1 pick in the draft just four years ago. He’s got all-star talent, and is at a stage of his career where players of his caliber aren’t often dealt. For Minnesota to be able to acquire a guy like Young, at age 22, is pretty remarkable. And Brendan Harris and Jason Pridie could both help them win ball games as useful role players next year. The Twins picked up three players who can all help them win in 2008, make nothing, and should be in Minnesota for several years to come. That’s not easy to do, and they should be quite happy with their haul.
But just because this trade helps Minnesota doesn’t mean Tampa Bay got ripped off. I like this trade from the Rays perspective as well.
While Matt Garza is the sexy name, Jason Bartlett is exactly what this team needed – a legitimate major league defensive SS who can hit a little bit. We’ve talked before about how bad Tampa’s defense was, but swapping out Harris for Bartlett is going to be one of the largest upgrades any team makes this winter at any position. The difference between those two with the gloves is staggering. With Bartlett at short, Akinori Iwamura shifting over to second base, and rookie Evan Longoria stepping in at third, the Rays are actually going to have an infield defense capable of getting to balls in the hole and turning double plays.
The effect this trade will have on the Tampa pitching staff goes far beyond adding Matt Garza and his mid-90s fastball to the rotation, though that certainly won’t hurt. I’m not as big a Garza fan as some, but he has a live arm and stuff that can miss bats, so he’s worth taking a risk on. Teamed with Scott Kazmir and James Shields, Tampa now has three young arms who can get hitters out by themselves, and with the addition of Bartlett, they now also have the support of the defenders behind them.
Eduardo Morlan gives their bullpen another strikeout arm, and teamed with the rumored signing of Troy Percival, the Tampa bullpen should be deep with power arms next year. With Al Reyes and Dan Wheeler already around, plus a plethora of young kids fighting for jobs in the ‘pen, Tampa’s relief core has a chance to be outright good next year – a far cry from the total debacle it was in 2007.
Yes, they gave up Delmon Young, and usually the team that gives up the best player in any deal loses, but not in this case. Minnesota got better, but so did Tampa Bay.
And for once, it’s great to have a deal that was made strictly on talent evaluations. This is a baseball trade, and a fun one at that.