The Tampa Bay Rays are a strong franchise and while they try to keep their best players, but the big payday that comes with being a Free Agent can be tough to pass up- No matter how much you love the team or the area.
Players want to cash in and bid a fond farewell to the Bay Area and cash those big paychecks.
But their two biggest Free Agents of all time Carl Crawford and B. J. Upton they got their big money. However, happiness did not come with the cash.
As a matter of fact you might just wonder if both guys would not mind returning to the happy days with the Rays.
Is there a “Curse of the Rays?”
Remember when Carl Crawford was one of the best young players in baseball as he roamed around in left field at Tropicana Field playing for the Rays? He was so good with Tampa Bay that in Crawford was named an All-Star for the second time in 2007, becoming the first Devil Ray to receive the honor more than once.
He was a four time All-Star for the Rays, (2004, 2007, 2009, 2010), won a Gold Glove in 2010, that same year he won the Silver Slugger Award and he was MVP of the MLB All Star Game.
But all good things must come to an end and it did almost the moment he became a free agent in the fall of 2010 and that off season he signed a 7-year, $142-million contract with the Boston Red Sox. He spent two uneventful season’s in Boston where he injured his wrist and needed to have Tommy John surgery to repair his left elbow.
In a salary dump the Red Sox made a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 25, 2012. Crawford went west along with Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Nick Punto, and $11 million in cash. Meanwhile the Red Sox got James Loney, Iván DeJesús, Jr., Allen Webster, Jerry Sands and Rubby De La Rosa back from the Dodgers.
He is now the forth outfielder for the Dodgers, sitting on the bench as Yasiel Puig plays right field, Andre Ethier center, Matt Kemp left. With the Dodgers in contention with the Giants for the National League West one has to wonder if and when Crawford will be back in the line-up on a regular basis.
At the same time that Crawford was making a name for himself in left field the center field position was anchored by the pride of Norfolk, Virginia, B.J. Upton. In his eight year career with Tampa Bay Upton hit .255, hit 118 homeruns, drove in 447 runs and had an impressive 232 stolen bases.
In the off season of 2012-2013 Upton as a Free Agent he signed a 5-year, $75.25 million contract with the Atlanta Braves. It was the most money Atlanta had ever paid a Free Agent and he was reunited with his brother Justin Upton.
To say that B.J. Upton has been a bust thus far with the Braves would be an understatement. His career numbers for Atlanta thus far include a robust batting average of .199 with 16 homeruns, 52 RBI and 27 stolen bases.
So while both Crawford and Upton are far from washed up you have to wonder if indeed there is a “Curse of the Rays,” going on.