1. The Delmon Young Deal
In the 2007 offseason, the Rays’ decided it was in their best interest to trade the man that they took number one overall in the 2003 draft, Delmon Young. Young was coming off of his first full year in the majors and had acclimated pretty well with a slash line of .288/.316/.408 to go along with 13 homers and 93 RBI’s. That was good enough for him to finish runner-up in the AL Rookie of the year race losing out to only Dustin Pedroia. The sky was the limit for the young outfielder, but there were some character concerns that the Rays felt they couldn’t look past.
The Rays acquired the Twins starting shortstop Jason Bartlett, promising right-hander Matt Garza, and minor leaguer Eduardo Morlan. Bartlett slid right into the starting spot in Tampa Bay and proved to be a solid piece hitting a respectable .286. Garza also made an immediate impact winning 11 games and posting a 3.70 ERA. A big reason this trade takes the top spot is because of the success that Tampa Bay had immediately following the deal and that had a lot to do with the guys involved. The Rays run to the World Series was highlighted by a masterclass performance by Garza in the ALCS when pitched 13 innings in 2 games while giving up only 2 earned runs and striking out 14 batters. He was awarded the ALCS MVP award for his efforts to push the Rays into the World Series.
"The Rays Way: Top Minor League System and the Tree of Delmon Young"
While neither Garza or Bartlett had particularly long stints with the Rays, they were both two really good players who helped the franchise reach their first and thus far only World Series. If we look at the ripple-effect of this trade it has shaped the Rays’ franchise even to the present day. Garza was dealt to the Cubs in the Chris Archer trade. The Rays eventually flipped Archer to the Pirates to acquire current stars Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow. If those two can propel the Rays’ deep into the postseason we may have to re-evaluate this list.