Saturday, September 4, 2010

Inside the Big Baltimore/Tampa Bay Trade

The Orioles and Rays have pulled off the season's biggest trade, swapping a pair of highly-paid pitchers and a pair of highly-drafted 3B's.

Baltimore gets Kordell Becker, the second piece of Tampa Bay's monster Season 10 FA spending spree; Jamie Faulk, Season 5's number 1 overall pick, and SP Donn Sisler. The Rays get Felix Turner, Season 7's #4 overall, James Hutton, Baltimore's own contribution to the Season 10 "FA credit bubble," and OF Andrew Holdridge.

Driving the deal: the Rays' impending budget bomb. "With many of our players reaching arbitration and their first long-term contracts, we were going to have to trade 2 or 3 big-salary guys next season," said Tampa Bay GM blanch13. "We saw an opportunity that made sense to speed up that timetable."

From Baltimore's end, the allure of getting a staff ace outweighed the huge contract that comes with him and the loss of Turner. The Orioles have turned into a bit of a surprise contender this year, thanks largely to the contributions of some fairly low-budget FA pitchers. But that pitching has slipped lately, and the Birds seized the opportunity to grab an ace starter.

Reactions around the league were mixed. Yankees' boss overeasy bemoaned the strengthening of a division rival: "I liked the Orioles better when they didn't have any good starting pitchers." White Sox GM jnewfry commented on the long-term implications: "And i liked the Rays better when they were completely stuck salary wise." And Texas GM akgsports provided a clear analysis of the talent merits: "I like Baltimore's end of it :) Faulk is underrated and just having a down year offensively. Becker is still top notch. I don't think Turner will be a consistent 900+ OPS hitter with a BE of 53."

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