Rays History

Tampa Bay Rays: 3 Most Unfortunate Trades in Franchise History

By Seth Carter
TORONTO, CANADA - AUGUST 23: Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jays bats during MLB game action against the Tampa Bay Rays on August 23, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - AUGUST 23: Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jays bats during MLB game action against the Tampa Bay Rays on August 23, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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Dmitri Young (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Dmitri Young for Mike Kelly

The Devil Rays were doing a lot of wheeling and dealing in the days leading up to the 1997 expansion draft. The first deal ever made in franchise history was for Mike Kelly. The Rays wanted the services of the former top prospect and the Reds had just traded for Dmitri Young from the Cardinals. The deal was struck to send Kelly to the Rays for a player to be named later. In a pre-arranged deal, the Devil Rays drafted Young with the 16th pick of the expansion draft and sent him straight back to the Reds, naming him as the player to be named later and thus completing the deal.

Mike Kelly was taken second overall in the 1991 draft but had yet to live up to expectations. He had shown glimpses in his first four seasons, slashing .241/.303/.432 prior to joining the Rays. He played 106 games for Tampa Bay that season, posting an OPS+ of 79. He would go on to play in only two more major-league games for the rest of his career.

On the flipside, Dmitri Young, the fourth-overall pick of the 1991 draft (two spots behind Mike Kelly) would go one to become a solid major-league player who would hit .292 with an OPS of .826 over a 13-year career.

While Mike Kelly’s career circled the drain in St. Pete in 1998, Dmitri Young would have a breakout season, smashing 48 doubles to go with a .310 batting average and a .364 on-base percentage for the Reds. Young finished his career with three seasons of 20 or more homers.

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