The Tampa Bay Rays on Friday completed a three-team, 11-player trade that sent outfielder Wil Myers, catcher Ryan Hanigan, minor-league left-hander Jose Castillo and minor-league right-hander Gerardo Reyes to the San Diego Padres in exchange for catcher Rene Rivera, right-hander Burch Smith and minor-league first baseman Jake Bauers.
The Rays also receive outfielder Steven Souza and minor-league left-hander Travis Ott from the Washington Nationals. Meanwhile, the Nationals receive from the Padres minor-league right-hander Joe Ross and a player to be named later, who is reported to be minor-league shortstop Trea Turner.
The Rays also designated reliever Brandon Gomes for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Rivera, Smith and Souza.
Teams agreed to the deal early Wednesday evening, but the transaction was made official Friday. The trade marks the largest in Rays history.
"We didn’t go into the offseason looking to trade Wil or Hanigan," said Matt Silverman, the Rays’ president of baseball operations. "We approached the offseason with an open mind. And that mind-set allows these conversations to take form and turn into this trade. Our opinion of Wil has been and continues to be high, and that opinion is shared by the industry and especially San Diego, who made a very hard charge to acquire him."
The trade brings an end to Myers’ short stint with the Rays, after he was part of a blockbuster seven-player deal in December 2012 that sent him from the Kansas City Royals to Tampa Bay in the same transaction that moved right-hander James Shields from the Rays to the Royals. After making his major-league debut on June 18, 2013 at Fenway Park, Myers finished the season hitting .293 with 13 home runs, 53 RBI and an .832 OPS in 88 games. He also was named the American League Rookie of the Year.
Myers’ second season was much more anticlimactic. He hit .222 with just six home runs, 35 RBI and a .614 OPS in 87 games during a campaign abbreviated because of a stress fracture in his right wrist sustained on May 30 against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. He becomes the second former AL Rookie of the Year to be traded by the Rays this offseason, following right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, the 2011 winner, being dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Nov. 14 for shortstop Andrew Velazquez and outfielder Justin Williams.
The decision to deal Myers is purely a talent-evaluation decision. He’s not eligible for arbitration until 2017, and the earliest he can become a free agent is in 2020. The choice to move him opens up an old debate about who "won" the deal between the Royals and Rays, with Shields becoming a major piece in Kansas City’s run last season toward its first World Series appearance since 1985.
"This isn’t about giving up on Wil Myers," Silverman said. "This is about a trade that makes us a better club this year and going forward, and Wil Myers is a key to doing that. Without his talents and value, there wouldn’t have been an 11-person trade that all three teams decided was in the best interests for the organizations. It’s the kind of trade that makes the baseball world go ‘round. Everyone walks away feeling that they bettered their organization."
With Myers gone, right-hander Jake Odorizzi stands as the most significant piece of the 2012 blockbuster deal from the Rays’ perspective. After winning a spot in the rotation during spring training, Odorizzi finished 11-13 with a 4.13 ERA and 174 strikeouts last season. He’s expected to fit into the rotation again next season, likely appearing in the middle-to-back-end of the group.
Thanks @RaysBaseball for support last 2 years. You gave me 1st shot in big leagues and I won't forget! Will miss teammates, staff, and fans!
Hanigan, meanwhile, hit .218 with five home runs and 34 RBI in 84 games last season, his lone campaign with the Rays. Tampa Bay gained him from the Cincinnati Reds via a three-team deal in December 2013 that also included the Diamondbacks. He was brought on to be the Rays’ top catcher, but hamstring issues and an oblique strain problem kept him out of the lineup more often than expected. Dealing him saves the club $8 million on a contract that runs through 2016 with an $800,000 buyout for 2017, and the move fits within principal owner Stuart Sternberg’s goal of cutting payroll from last season’s franchise-record $80 million.
With the departures of Myers and Hanigan, the Rays add some intriguing names.
Rivera, 31, is a six-year veteran who hit .252 with 11 home runs and 44 RBI in 103 games last season, and his durability should be an asset as the Rays’ new top option at catcher. Smith, 24, was 1-3 with a 6.44 ERA in 10 appearances (seven starts) last season, the first in the majors. Souza, 25, hit .130 with two home runs and two RBI in 21 games for the Nationals last season, his first in the majors, and he’ll add depth in the Rays’ outfield. Moving Myers for Souza suggests that the Rays could believe Souza will be an upgrade in ability over Myers.
"He’s an outfielder with tremendous talent," Silverman said of Souza. "He has talent on both sides of the ball. We don’t have any specific plans for him yet, as there’s still a lot of the offseason for us to work through. But we expect him to be a mainstay in our lineup for many years to come. That was the intent when we targeted him."
Meanwhile, the additions of Ott and Bauers, both 19 years old, figure to bolster the Rays’ developmental system. Ott, drafted in the 25th round of the 2013 MLB draft, was 1-4 with a 3.93 ERA in 13 starts during time split between Low-A Auburn and Class-A Hagerstown last season. Bauers, meanwhile, was taken in the seventh round in the 2013 MLB draft and hit .296 with eight home runs and 64 RBI in 112 games with Class-A Fort Wayne last season.
The deal represents another significant moment in an offseason filled with transition for the Rays, from Joe Maddon’s departure as manager to Kevin Cash’s hire at the position and adjustments made to the coaching staff that were finalized Friday. With more pieces added in a historic deal, Silverman is eager for the future.
"There has been incredible change in our organization in the last couple of months, but there’s starting to be some stability settling in," he said. "We’ve worked through the roster crunch, we’ve hired a new manager, we’ve set our coaching staff and now we’re rounding out the major-league club."