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Rays Gave Up Love For Money and It Didn’t Work

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Carl Crawford, one of the most electric baseball players I have ever seen, was designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Dodgers this week. Clearly, the Rays gave up love for money, and it didn’t work out!

The Dodgers owe Crawford $35 million over the rest of this season and next, but even that was not enough for the team to keep him as a reserve. To make it even worse, the man who pulled the trigger was Dodger’s GM Andrew Friedman, who was Tampa Bay’s GM during Crawford’s brilliant career with the Rays.

Crawford wasn’t the only Ray, who went down hill after he left the team. Here’s a look at Crawford and two other former Rays and what happened to them when they gave up love for money.

Carl Crawford. Always a fan favorite over his nine seasons with the Rays, Crawford posted a .296/.337/.444 slash line, averaged 45 stolen bases and delivered an amazing 105 triples. His speed made him an outstanding left fielder.

After the 2010 season, Crawford was a free agent and signed a mind-boggling seven year $142 million contract with Boston. The deal was a disaster from the beginning as Boston was a team that did not value speed and his .255/.289/.405 slash line was not what the BoSox wanted for $20 million a season.

Unlike the Rays fans, the Boston faithful booed Crawford consistently. After an injury plagued 2012 season, the Red Sox sent Crawford and the remainder of his contract to the Dodgers in a huge salary dump.

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His time with the Dodgers wasn’t much better. Crawford continued to suffer from injuries and was constantly fighting for a job in a crowded Dodger outfield.

Worst of all he was rapidly losing his speed and only stole 48 bases in his four years with the Dodgers.

This season proved to be the end, and he had a .185/.230/.235 slash line when he was designated for assignment.

Melvin Upton. B. J., as he was known when he played for the Rays, was no Carl Crawford, but he was a very talented player. He brought a rare combination of speed and power to the game and had a .255/.279/.422 slash line over eight years.

He also averaged 29 stolen bases and 15 home runs over eight seasons. Upton was also a brilliant center fielder and paired with Crawford to be one of the fastest left field/centerfield combinations in baseball. The biggest problem was that he struck out too much and in six full seasons, he averaged 156 strikeouts a year.

All those strikeouts didn’t scare teams away and in his 2012 free agent year, Upton signed a $72.5 million with the Atlanta Braves. In Atlanta, nothing went right for Upton from the start and over two years he had a .198/.279/.314 slash line and averaged 162 strikeouts a season.

Before the 2015 season, a rebuilding Atlanta sent Upton and star closer Craig Kimbrel to San Diego for five marginal players in a straight salary dump. His fortunes have started to look up a bit with the Padres in 2015 and to date, he has a .249/.312/.400 slash line and he is playing well in left field. Still, he is mentioned in trade rumors, and the floundering Padres would dump him in a heartbeat.

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Carlos Pena. Pena did not start out with Tampa Bay. He spent the first six years of his career bouncing around between four American League teams. After an injury plagued 2006, Pena signed a minor league contract with the Rays and through a fluke injury to a teammate, he made the big league club and the next four years were magic.

Pena hit 144 home runs and drove in 407 runs in the 2007 thru 2010 seasons. Like most power hitters, he struck out a lot, but he also walked a lot and averaged 94 walks in the four years.

Bases on balls and power caused Pena to post an average slugging percentage of over .900 for the first three years in Tampa Bay. If the entire offensive package wasn’t enough, he was a gold glove first baseman.

Pena’s 2010 season showed that he was slipping a bit, but he still used free agency to sign a $10 million one-year deal with the Cubs. He rebounded a bit but the Cubs chose not the resign him. He came back to the Rays on a one-year $7 million deal in 2012. However, the magic was gone and after a disappointing season, he was not resigned. Pena played three more disappointing seasons with three different teams and was out of baseball by 2015.

Not everyone struggles after they leave the Rays. Ben Zobrist was traded to Oakland in 2015 and had a nice year. Granted free agency before the 2016 season, he signed a four-year $50 million deal with Joe Maddon’s Chicago Cubs and is probably on his way to the All-Star game. However, Zobrist is 35 years of age so we’ll see how he holds up over the remainder of the contract.

In the end, it proves that no matter how much you like playing for a certain team, no one can argue with an eight-figure deal from a rival.

Next: It's Time For The Rays To Shake Things Up.

However if you don’t perform, you had better be prepared to put up with disappointed fans, frustrated general managers, angry owners and, worst of all, being designated for assignment.

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