The Tampa Bay Rays have been masters of the trade for a long time. Rays Colored Glasses contributor – Keegan McGuiggan ranks his top three trades in Rays’ history.
Our newest contributor, Keegan McGuiggan ranks the Tampa Bay Rays’ top three trades in franchise history. Enjoy, and let us know what your top three trades are on our Facebook Page.
3. Rays trade Aubrey Huff for Ben Zobrist
At the trade deadline in 2006, the Rays came to an agreement with the Houston Astros to trade Aubrey Huff for a couple of no-name minor league prospects. At the time of the trade Huff was the Rays career leader in games played, at-bats, hits, runs scored, home runs, and RBI’s. The perception amongst fans at the trade was lukewarm as most saw it as merely just dumping Huff’s expiring contract off to the Astros and freeing up some space in the lineup to move around some other guys like BJ Upton and Julio Lugo.
The excitement over the two prospects that Tampa Bay received, RHP Mitch Talbot and INF Ben Zobrist, was almost nonexistent as neither were considered to be major league ready for a while. Zobrist, however, made his major league debut not to long after he was dealt to the Rays where he didn’t do much to win over the fans with a less than stellar slash line of .224/.260/.311 in 52 games. He toiled in the minor leagues for much of the 2007 season before finally making the jump to the bigs full time during the ’08 season where he was used primarily as a utility player off the bench. He slashed .253/.339/.505 with 12 homers in just 198 at-bats and was used a lot during the Rays run to the World Series that year.
2009 was the breakout year for Zobrist as he was selected to his first and only all-star appearance slashing an exceptional .297/.405/.543 with 27 homers and 91 runs driven in. He also led the league in WAR that year with a mark of 8.6, right ahead of a prime Albert Pujols. Zobrist never quite kept up that level of play but he was still a remarkably good and consistent hitter in his time the Rays. Not bad for a guy who was just a throw-in on a contract dump.