Developing Rays Accelerated With Trade Of Aubrey Huff
On July 12, 2006 the Tampa Bay Devil Rays were 39-50 and new Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and Manager Joe Maddonw were moving forward with a plan that was set in place at the end of June to rebuild the current roster.
The decision was made to take existing assets and turn them into prospects. One of the first moves that they made was to trade veteran Aubrey Huff who had been with the club for parts of seven seasons (2000-2006) to the Houston Astros in exchange for pitcher Mitch Talbot and infielder Ben Zobrist.
Additionally, the Devil Rays sent along approximately $1.6MM in cash to help offset the remaining $3MM of his 2006 salary.
“While there are positives we can take away from the improvement we made during the first half, to accept where we are is to accept mediocrity,” Devil Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “Our goal is to build a competitive team that we can sustain.” – Tuscon Citizen
At the time of the trade the 25 year old Zobirst was playing for the Astros Double-A affiliate Corpus Christi Hooks and had posted a triple slash line of .327/.434/.473 and had shown tremendous plate discipline drawing 55 walks while only striking out 46 times.
Mitch Talbot was selected by the Astros in the second round of the 2002 draft and had slowly progressed through the Astros systems and was one of Zobrist’s teammates with the Hooks where he had posted a record of 6-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 17 starts.
Talbot’s career with the Rays never materialized (3 games/1 start in 2008) and he was traded to the Cleveland Indians as the player to be named later on December 21, 2009 to acquire catcher Kelly Shoppach.
Here we are about to hit the All-Star break and the Rays are 42-53 and are once again are contemplating how to build their team for the future. This time around it is veteran Ben Zobrist whose name is being floated out as a possible player that could return future pieces in trade to establish the next competitive Rays team.