Rays Review: 2020 Trade Deadline

(AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

Phillips Acquisition and Path Paved for Arozarena Highlight 2020 Trade Deadline Deals

The 2020 season was a whirlwind for the Tampa Bay Rays from a late opening day on July 24th due to the Covid-19 pandemic to the season ending in a World Series loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games.

With the condensed season the MLB Trade Deadline was pushed back from it’s normal end of July/Aug 1st to August 31st at 4 p.m. EST. The Rays, as they have been in many years, were active at the trade deadline albeit not as robust in activity as prior seasons.

What makes a deadline deal? Are they the deals that are completed in the final 24 hours? Well, in my opinion those are included but I’d prefer to look 7-10 out from the trade deadline for a larger scope of what the front office was trying to accomplish. These trades accomplish different objectives. They could be made to fill a need on the roster short term, to provide depth for the playoff push, to clear a 40-man roster spot, or to open up playing time for someone. The 2020 trade deadline had a mix of all of these elements.

Edgar Garcia Acquired From Philadelphia

The Rays organization is always on the hunt for pitching at all levels and this includes adding an arm to their 60-man player pool in Edgar Garcia on August 18th from the Philadelphia Phillies for a player to be named later. Garcia had been designated for assignment by the Phillies on August 13th to clear a roster spot for the promotion of Alec Bohm.

At the time of the trade Garcia had not pitched in the big leagues in 2020 but did pitch to a 2-0 mark with a 5.77 ERA in 39 innings in 2019. Despite the struggles at the MLB level, Garcia was still just 23 years old and had logged 27 innings in Triple-A in 2019 pitching to a 2-1 mark with a 2.48 ERA.

It didn’t take long for the Rays to bring Garcia up to the big leagues as Nick Anderson hit the injured list with a forearm strain on August 23rd. He made his Rays debut on August 24th against the Toronto Blue Jays and picked up a save against the Baltimore Orioles in his second appearance on August 25th. In total, Garcia worked in four games for the Rays allowing four earned runs in 3.1-innings of work.

He was granted free agency in December of 2020 and signed with the Cincinnati Reds before Christmas. In 2021 he worked 24 innings for the Reds Triple-A affiliate Louisville in 2021 pitching to a 2-0 mark with a 3.38 ERA spanning 24 innings. His work and a slew of injuries to the Reds bullpen earned him a callups on July 19th.

To make room on the 40-man roster for Garcia, Tampa Bay designated infielder Daniel Robertson for assignment. At the end of the 2020 season, Tampa Bay sent minor league pitcher Rodolfo Sanchez to the Phillies to complete the deal.

Sanchez, 21, is pitching for the Phillies Low-A East affiliate Clearwater Threshers and has appeared in 13 games spanning 37 innings and is 0-3 with a 5.84 ERA.

Brett Phillips Acquired From Kansas City

On August 27th Tampa Bay sent infielder Lucius Fox to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for outfielder Brett Phillips. At the time of the trade, Phillips had played in 18 games with the Royals and was hitting .226/.294/.387 (7-for-31) with a home run. Known as one of the best outfielders in baseball with the ability to play all three positions. He had not committed an error since his MLB debut on June 5, 2017. In 2019 Phillips spent most of the year with the Royals Triple-A affiliate Omaha where he hit .240/.378/.505 with 18 homers and 22 stolen bases. He joined the Rays

In 17 games with the Rays in 2020 he hit just .150 (3-for-20) but will be forever known for his key game winning hit against the Dodgers in Game 5 of the 2020 World Series.

This season with Tampa Bay, Phillips has appeared in 73 games and is hitting .195/.300/.323 with four homers and 11 stolen bases. He continues to be a solid defender at all three spots and is still one of the happiest persons on the planet.

Lucius Fox was once a highly regarded prospect, so much so that he was inked by the San Francisco Giants for $6MM as an international free agent in 2015. He was acquired by Tampa Bay along with Michael Santos and Matt Duffy on deadline day of 2016.

Fox has yet to make his big league debut and is currently struggling in 2021 with the Royals Triple-A affiliate Omaha batting just .194 (12-for-62).

Cody Reed Acquired From Cincinnati:

On August 28th Tampa Bay looked to bolster its bullpen by acquiring left-handed releiver Cody Reed from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for minor league pitcher Riley O’Brien. Reed had been designated for assignment by the Reds on August 24th after struggling to a 5.79 ERA (6ER/10.1-IP) spanning nine appearances.

Reed joined the Rays’ bullpen on August 31st but landed on the injured list with a pinky irritation after just two appearances. He was later transferred to the 60-day IL in mid-September ending his 2020 season. He battled the injury with Tampa Bay in 2021 landing on the IL in mid-April and then again in mid-May. Ultimately, Reed required thoracic outlet syndrome ending his 2021 season.

O’Brien has yet to make his MLB debut and is currently pitching for the Reds Triple-A affiliate where he is 4-4 with a 4.78 ERA spanning 58.1-innings of work.

Jose Martinez Traded To Chicago Cubs:

On August 30th Tampa Bay traded designated hitter Jose Martinez to the Chicago Cubs for two player to be named later. It was a weirdly worded deal as officially it was a “player to be named later or cash considerations and a player to be named later and cash considerations.” Ultimately, it was just one player to be named later, minor league shortstop Pedro Martinez.

The Rays acquired Martinez in a trade with the St. Louis Cardinals in January of 2020. Tampa Bay acquired Martinez along with Randy Arozarena f in exchange for minor league pitcher Matthew Liberatore and minor league catcher Edgardo Rodriguez. The two teams also swapped supplemental draft picks. This would not be the only time where a connection between Arozarena and Martinez would occur.

At the time of the trade Martinez had not lived up to his potency against left handed pitching hitting just .229 (8-for-35) against them. Additionally, Martinez doesn’t wear a glove and was preventing a more dynamic player on the roster. In large part the deal with Chicago was made to open up playing time for Randy Arozarena. In what might have been the best move the Rays made in 2020 as Arozarena’s torrid bat helped carried them to the World Series in 2020.

Pedro Martinez a switch hitting minor league infielder is currently is playing for the Rays High-A East affiliate Bowling Green. There he is struggling with the bat hitting .197/.275/.291 spanning 237 plate appearances.

Anthony Banda Traded To Giants:

On August 31st Tampa Bay designated left-hander Anthony Banda for assignment. In a corresponding move Brendan McKay was re-instated from the IL and outrighted to Port Charlotte. Cody Reed was selected to take Banda’s spot on the active roster. Banda was shipped to the San Francisco Giants later that day in exchange for cash considerations.

Banda was acquired by the Rays from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Steven Souza Jr. three way deal that included the New York Yankees in February of 2018. That deal included the Rays sending Souza Jr. to the Diamondbacks in exchange for Anthony Banda, Colin Poche, and Sam McWilliams. Tampa Bay also received Nick Solak from the New York Yankees who sent Brandon Drury and Taylor Widener to the Diamondbacks.

Banda never seemed to recover from Tommy John surgery that he had in June of 2018. With the Rays he appeared in just 10 games logging 25.2-innings with a 2-0 record and a 5.96 ERA.

Banda never appeared in a game with the Giants and was traded to the New York Mets on July 2, 2021 and he has appeared in one game for them.