It has been a funny offseason for us here at Rays Colored Glasses. Usually there is enough of a lull in the action that we end up discussing the history of the team, but this time around, trade after trade has left us with plenty to talk about. Nevertheless, it is always nice to reflect back upon how the Tampa Bay Rays got to this point by looking at some notable players in their history and where they have ended up. After discussing John Flaherty last time, we will talk about Randy Winn today.
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Originally drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 3rd round of the 1995 MLB Draft, Randy Winn joined the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when they made him the 58th pick in the 1997 expansion draft. It didn’t take long for Winn to make an impact with the fledgeling franchise as he joined the Devil Rays in May of the 1998 inaugural season. Winn’s rookie season was quite productive as he hit for a solid .278 average and led major league rookies with 26 steals.
The next two seasons were a different story for Winn as his inconsistency at the plate caused him to log nearly as many games at Triple-A as in the majors. Winn finally broke through in 2001, hitting to a .273/.339/.401 line with 6 homers, 50 RBI, and 12 stolen bases. It was the 27-year-old outfielder’s best season to that point, and he would never play another game in the minor leagues.
In the following season, Winn was so effective that he made his first and only All-Star Game. He surpassed his previous career records with a .298 batting average, a .461 slugging percentage, 39 doubles, 9 triples, 14 homers, 75 RBI, 27 stolen bases, and 55 walks. However, it would mark his last hurrah as a member of the Rays. Ben Zobrist was extended after his surprise All-Star season in 2009, but Randy Winn was traded away.
The circumstances under which Winn was dealt were among the strangest in major league history. He was sent to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for manager Lou Pinella, who became the Devil Rays’ skipper in 2003, and infielder Antonio Perez. Yes, the Devil Rays traded their All-Star right fielder for a manager and a utility infielder.
Winn is quite possibly the best player even traded for a non-playing manager in the history of baseball other than Manny Sanguillen, who was already in decline when he was dealt for skipper Chuck Tanner. In terms of career WAR per Baseball-Reference, the two remarkably have the same 27.5 mark. In any event, Winn was the bigger catch when he was dealt as the Mariners were acquiring a player in his prime.
For the next two and a half years, Winn would be a staple in the Mariners lineup, hitting to a .287/.345/.417 line and setting a career-high with 81 RBI. In the middle of 2005, though, he was sent to the San Francisco Giants and began his stint in the organization with a bang. He hit .359 with 14 homers in just 247 plate appearances to finish the season with a .306/.360/.499 line with 47 doubles, 20 homers, and 19 stolen bases overall.
Winn would never again approach those sort of numbers, but he established himself as a respected figure within the Giants organization from 2006 to 2009. Winn hit to a .283/.340/.407 line with an average of 9 homers and 16 stolen bases per season. Winn would also receive MLBPAA Giants Heart and Hustle Award in 2008.
His final season in the majors came in 2010, when he signed with the New York Yankees, but was released later in the season. He would be picked up by the St. Louis Cardinals and delivered solid numbers in what proved to be his final MLB at-bats, hitting to a .250/.311/.382 line with 3 homers and 5 stolen bases.
Winn attempted to play another season in 2011 and was able to sign a minor league contract with the Baltimore Orioles. However, when it became clear that he was not going to make the team, he decided to call it a career before Opening Day.
Throughout his career, Randy Winn was always a diplomat for baseball. He supported Writerscorp, which is a San Francisco based program that supports kids and teenagers who wish to express themselves through means of writing and spoken word forms.
He and his wife are also involved with the Moyer Foundation (a program setup by former major league pitcher Jamie Moyer), which created Camp Erin: a program that aims to heal and support children who have either suffered great loss or dealt with family addiction. You can support and learn more about the organization at https://www.moyerfoundation.org/about/default.aspx
Since retiring in spring of 2011, Winn has turned his focus to raising his children and spending time with his friends and family. On occasion, he appears on CSN Bay Area as a baseball analyst discussing the San Francisco Giants.