A couple of weeks ago I took a look at some of the biggest trades in Rays history. Now I will continue our look at the Rays trade history with a look at one of the biggest bust trades in the history of the Rays: Bobby Abreu for Kevin Stocker.
Many of you probably don’t remember this, but Bobby Abreu was one of the original Rays. He was only around for a matter of hours after being the sixth pick in the expansion draft, but he was still a Ray. The same day he was drafted, Abreu was dealt to the Phillies for Kevin Stocker, hoping that he would anchor the Rays infield.
Just imagine if the Rays had kept Abreu in the system. Abreu immediately made a splash for the Phillies, hitting .312 with 17 homers in 1998. It was more of the same in 1999, when he hit .335 with 20 homers. For the next six seasons in Philadelphia, Abreu was the anchor in the middle of their order, hitting .300+ with 20 to 30 homers.
Stocker, in those same two seasons, hit .208 with 6 homers in 1998 and .299 with 1 homer in 1999. Not bad, but not what you would expect after the Rays made the deal. To top things off, Stocker was released in the middle of the 2000 season.
Abreu would most likely have quickly played himself out of the Rays price range, but imagine the start-up Rays with Boggs, Abreu and McGriff in the middle of the order. That would have been a formidable order, and the Rays may have had more early success than they did. Granted, they may not have won the World Series in their fourth season as the Diamondbacks did, but it could have saved the Rays a few seasons in the cellar.
We can dream of a Rays team with Bobby Abreu, but the Rays most likely entered the draft with the plan of taking Abreu and immediately trading him. He was young at the time, at 23, but didn’t show much power or average in 1997, playing in 59 games. The typical Rays model was in effect on day one, where they try to maximize potential to get good pieces. The deal made sense then, as the Rays tried to maximize the potential of Abreu and get Stocker to anchor their infield. Clearly, they did not see Abreu developing into the monster hitter that he did.