Let’s call it Exhibit A.
Former Cy Young-winning pitcher Blake Snell was traded from the Tampa Bay Rays to the San Diego Padres on Monday.
A shocking blockbuster, indeed.
For sure, trades happen all the time. Players are moved. Teams feel it’s a deal they simply can’t pass up.
And sometimes, it’s simply financial. A team can no longer afford a player who is facing free agency.
Here, however, none of that applied.
In fact, Snell is a bargain. He’s under contract for the next three seasons for just $40.8 million. In MLB these days, that’s like buying a player with a coupon.
Snell should have been a keeper. Instead, the Rays simply gave away one of their best players now for players in the future.
In doing so, they screwed the fans.
Instead of trying to build up their team – a team that was in the World Series in October – they tore it down just because.
This is why Tampa Bay doesn’t deserve a baseball team.
MLB has made a number of mistakes in granting cities expansion teams, none bigger than trying to make the perfect spring training site home to a major league franchise.
And people wonder why fans there won’t go to the games. In 2019, the team finished with the second-lowest attendance in MLB for a second consecutive year. Support for a winning team is pathetic, to say the least.
Last season, their barren stadium looked more normal than the rest of MLB despite the pandemic and absence of fans in the stands. The dumping of Snell, just 28 and in his prime, should make fans not want to go or support this franchise.
The last time Rays fans saw Snell on the mound was in Game 6 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The lefty had pitched 5 1/3 innings of great baseball.
Somehow, Snell was pulled because analytics said so. The Rays wound up losing the game, the Fall Classic and giving the Dodgers their first World Series since 1988.
Rays fans are still waiting for their first World Series title.
Snell was one of theirs, a homegrown product. He was a first-round pick in 2011. He made the team in 2016 and won the AL CY Young in 2018 when he went 21-5 with a 1.89 ERA.
Snell is a stud starter.
Sadly, this is not new for this franchise. They have dumped so many of their star pitchers, including James Shields, David Price and Chris Archer.
For sure, the Rays probably got a haul of prospects for Snell. Fans don’t care about that. Sports is about now, not a five-year plan.
The Rays were close to winning a World Series. The expectation should be that ownership would add to their team this offseason and give fans hope that they might finally be able to get over the hump in 2021.
Look at the San Diego Padres. They made a splash in the playoffs last season, making it for the first time in 14 years. They beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the first round, but lost to the Dodgers in the NL Divisional Series.
The Padres weren’t satisfied. Not only did they trade for Snell, but also are working on trading for Yu Darvish. They want to build on their success of last season, not undermine it.
That has been the Rays’ history.
The goal is to be the Yankees, that team that won four out of five World Series in the late 90s with mostly their own players that they developed. The Yankees didn’t get rid of Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte. They kept them, paid them and won with them.
And nobody wants to hear that the Rays don’t have the money. If ownership can’t honestly compete from a financial standpoint, they shouldn’t be in business.
And don’t say small markets can’t win. Kansas City won a World Series in 2015, not 40 years ago.
The Rays have now gone to two World Series (2008 and 2020) since they began play in the 1998 season.
The trade of Snell won’t get them back there soon.
MLB needs to exit Tampa Bay ASAP.