The three-team trade that brought infielder Brandon Drury to the Yankees and sent Tampa Bay Rays favorite Steven Souza Jr. to Arizona has served to further emphasize the tale of two teams in the same city — one loading up, the other stripping down — and the looming, much bigger problem in baseball called competitive balance. There is joy aplenty over at Steinbrenner Field where hordes of early spring training fans swarm through the gates each morning to watch the big show in town — Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton taking batting practice. But tune in to WDAE 620 AM, the local sports talk radio station, and it’s a very different story for the actual hometown team here — nothing but outrage and disgust for the Rays, who are dumping payroll and trading away all their best players while at the same time holding out their hands for community support for a new stadium. Yes, the Rays are now rivaling Derek Jeter’s Miami Marlins in South Florida when it comes to tanking. Over the past few weeks, the Rays have traded away their franchise player, Evan Longoria, last year’s most valuable Ray; Souza Jr.; their No. 3 starter Jake Odorizzi; their 27-homer leftfielder, Corey Dickerson; and allowed last year’s leading run producer (38 HR/85 RBI), Logan Morrison, and No. 2 starter Alex Cobb to leave as a free agents. That’s 115 homers, 311 RBI and 22 rotation wins gone, but more importantly to owner Stuart Sternberg it’s nearly $35 million in payroll off the books. Like the Marlins and the Pittsburgh Pirates (who traded away their franchise player, Andrew McCutchen and No. 1 starter Gerrit Cole this winter), the Rays have essentially told their fans: There is no need to come out to the ballpark this season. We won’t be competing. But they have done it with an added wrinkle. A few days before the opening of spring training, Sternberg announced the Rays have settled on a site, in the historic Ybor City section of Tampa, for a new ballpark, and thus began his pitch to civic and business leaders for their support for the project. Meanwhile, what no one is pointing out is that Sternberg will be getting upwards of $60 million in revenue sharing this year, in addition to $50 million in found money with the Rays’ share of MLB’s sale of BAMtech to Disney.
Rays, Marlins disorder is unfair to fans and other small-market teams that are trying to win
New York Daily News | Feb 23