Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Aki Trade: What it means for the Rays.

The Tampa Bay Rays wasted no time making sure they didn't get stuck with Akinori Iwamura's half-million dollar buy out option.  The team traded the 2nd baseman to the Pittsburgh Pirates for right-handed reliever Jesse Chavez.

So, what does the deal mean for the Rays? In the short term the Rays unload Aki's salary, opening up more payroll for next year. In the long term, the Rays get a reliever that is in their control for the next few years.  Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman says Chavez has a real upside. 

The Pirates used Chavez as a setup man late in the season. He was able to get some outs against lefties, but had trouble against righties. He does have a 96-mile-per-hour fastball and the Pirates were considering a possible closer role for Chavez.

It's still to early to envision exactly what Chavez's roll will be in the Rays bullpen.  I think the main problem with the Rays bullpen is the lack of a closer. If they get a closer, the rest of the pieces could fall in to place.

It's sad to see the Aki era end in St. Petersburg. Who can forget some of the big hits he had in 2008? He'll also be immortalized in Rays' lore as the man who made the final out in the 2008 ALCS.

This trade opened my eyes to one other thing. No matter how much I complain about the Rays and their payroll, the Pirates and their fans have it much worse.  Aki became the highest paid Pittsburgh Pirate yesterday.

Rays Revolutionary treated by Truly Nolen © Layout By Hugo Meira.