Why the Tampa Bay Rays traded Willy Adames
By Kasey Kuhrts
It’s always tough to see a fan favorite go, but Tampa Bay Rays fans will feel some extra pain seeing Willy Adames head to the Brewers after being traded on Friday.
Adames has been one of the longest-tenured Tampa Bay Rays players, and has been the team’s starter at shortstop since 2018.
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Willy Adames history with the Rays
If you remember, Willy Adames was acquired as the main prospect in the David Price trade back in 2014. It broke down like this:
Adames spent the rest of 2014-2017 in the Rays minor league system, ranking as a top-100 prospect on MLB.com, Baseball America, and Baseball Prospectus. Adames reached as high as 15th on Baseball Prospectus’ list before the 2018 season.
Adames started the 2018 season in Durham, but was called up after 64 games at the age of 22, and never looked back.
And although Adames had some great moments on the field, let’s not bury the lead, Adames was loved by fans, and teammates because of his personality, and his ability to be an incredible teammate.
To everyone who watched Rays baseball, I’m not breaking any news here. This was a sight you would see after every run scored, just as Tricia Whitaker tweeted. You could count on Willy to be the hype man for the team, through the good and bad.
Yesterday, as Willy Adames walked off the field for the last time as a Tampa Bay Ray, his teammates felt the pain.
The pain will heal, but it is still fresh. However, we must continue on, and look at why this was able to happen.
Why Willy Adames was traded
Obviously, the players in the minor leagues play a big part in this, but let’s look at the here and now.
So far on the season, Adames is only hitting .197 in 41 games, not great. Along with that, Adames has a strikeout rate of 35.9% so far this season, his career-high is 36.1% in that stat.
In the field, Adames has already made four errors in 153 chances in 2021. I’m sure this isn’t a major factor, but it is something to watch.
So, if we are being honest, Adames hasn’t been having that great of a season. Pairing that with the fact Adames will be entering his first arbitration year after the season and will be getting a bump in pay, the Rays had to make this move.
Now, let’s look at the minor league part of this.
Willy Adames future replacements
As we know, the Rays have recalled their 7th best prospect Taylor Walls from Triple-A to take Adames’ spot on the roster. But looking past Walls, the Rays have a long line of top-prospect talent at the shortstop position.
Counting Walls, five of the Rays’ top-ten prospects are listed as shortstops, including the number one prospect in all of baseball, Wander Franco.
Look farther down the list, five more of the Rays top-30 prospects are listed as shortstops, making ten of their top 30. So obviously paying Adames at the end of the season wasn’t going to be an option.
Goodbye Willy Adames
The last thing worth noting is what happens to Willy Adames now? As we know, he will be heading to the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers traded their starting shortstop Orlando Arcia to the Braves four games into the season, as they wanted Luis Urias to take over at short for “The Brew Crew.”
However, that hasn’t worked. Urias is hitting under .210 on the season, well under expectations. Adames will likely take over as the starter for the Brewers, and at worst split time with Urias until he takes over completely.
Although it is a sad day for Tampa Bay Rays fans, this was a smart move by the organization. All we can say now is, Thanks for the memories, Willy! Best of luck in Milwaukee.