2. The Matt Garza Trade
The 2011 offseason was busy for the Rays as they completed one of the largest transactions in franchise history. Matt Garza was the centerpiece here in the deal. Garza had been a staple in the Rays rotation the past 3 seasons to go along with James Shields and David Price who formed one of the most formidable starting rotations in the entire league.
In return, the Rays were acquiring a large haul of prospects hoping to fortify their farm system. Chris Archer was the Cubs’ number one prospect at the time and he was dominating in the minors. Hak-Ju Lee, The Cubs 4th-rated prospect was just entering his age-20 season so there was hope that the shortstop would develop into an essential piece of the Rays roster. Despite some success at the Double-A level, Lee suffered multiple injuries during his minor league stints and never played a big-league game. Robinson Chirinos played one 20 games for Tampa Bay but with little success. He was eventually traded to the Rangers for cash considerations and ended up becoming a decent player for the Rangers and now currently the Houston Astros. Brandon Guyer ended up being a solid big leaguer for the Rays as he slashed .255/.341/.396 in 306 games.
Archer is the reason that this trade makes the list. A two-time all-star, Archer was the ace for the Rays for the better part of the 2010s. His dominance might not show completely in his record which stood at 54-68, but Archer’s stuff was as good as anybody’s during his run with Tampa Bay. In 2015 Archer earned his first all-star bid, posting a 3.23 ERA to go along with a whopping 252 strikeouts. The Rays eventually dealt Archer to the Pirates for Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow, and Shane Baz. In retrospect, Tampa Bay absolutely fleeced the Pirates here. Archer has been terrible for the Bucs’ while Meadows was an all-star last season and Glasnow has ace potential himself. Give it another year or two and that trade will be at the top of this list.