Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals Intertwined History

By Kasey Kuhrts
Brett Phillips Tampa Bay Rays (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Brett Phillips Tampa Bay Rays (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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The next trade of note is one I had forgotten about until I looked it up. But it is a big one in the history of the Tampa Bay Rays.

In June of 2006 the still Tampa Bay Devil Rays struck another deal with the Kansas City Royals. The Rays sent middle infielder Fernando Cortez, who had one career hit with the Rays, to the Royals along with speedy outfielder Joey Gathright.

Gathright played in parts of three seasons with the Devil Rays where he was a career .244 hitter with 38 stolen bases.

In return the Royals sent 23-year-old, then starting pitcher J.P. Howell to Tampa.

His first two seasons in Tampa weren’t good, but after being moved to the bullpen in 2008 Howell became one of the most important players on the 2008 World Series team, and a fan favorite.

J.P Howell Tampa Bay Rays
J.P. Howell Tampa Bay Rays (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images) /

In 2008 Howell pitched to a 2.22 ERA in 89.1 innings. In 2009 Howell has forced into closer duty, and excelled. J.P. had 17 saves while pitching to a 2.84 ERA in 69 games.

Howell dealt with injuries in 2010 and 2011, and finished his time with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012. Howell went on to play with the Dodgers and Blue Jays before the end of his MLB career.

I think it’s fair to say, the Tampa Bay Rays won this trade.