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Young is an ex-Ray after one season, sent to the Twins in a six-player swap that nets a starting pitcher and shortstop.
By EDUARDO A. ENCINA, Times Staff Writer
Published November 29, 2007
ST. PETERSBURG - Hours after the Rays looked to the future and unveiled elaborate new stadium plans, the team traded Delmon Young - the youngest piece of its prized outfield - to the Twins as the part of a six-player deal that landed a talented young pitcher and a starting shortstop.
The trade sent the 22-year-old Young, the AL Rookie of the Year runner-up, to Minnesota with infielder Brendan Harris and minor-league outfielder Jason Pridie in exchange for right-handed pitcher Matt Garza, shortstop Jason Bartlett and minor-league reliever Eduardo Morlan.
"This trade is about the present, not about the future," Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "We capitalized on our depth in certain areas to address more pressing areas of need."
The key pieces to the deal are Garza, 24, a potential top-shelf pitcher who would likely become the Rays' No. 3 starter, and Bartlett, who would fill the team's primary offseason need by stepping into the starting shortstop role.
Reached Wednesday night via cell phone, Young said he was not surprised the Rays dealt him and had no hard feelings.
"We had too many outfielders and one of them had to go," Young said. "You always know if there's an offer the team can't resist they'll pull the trigger. ... It's a business decision and a deal that helps out both teams."
Young, the top overall pick in the 2003 draft, hit .288 with 13 homers, 93 RBIs and 16 outfield assists in his first full major-league season. But Young is a notoriously aggressive swinger, doesn't walk much (26 in 645 at-bats), has a low on-base percentage (.316) and except for his strong throwing arm is limited defensively - all things that the Rays are trying to move away from in fielding a competitive team.
"I believe he's going to move forward," manager Joe Maddon said. "He's going to have a nice run in Minnesota. I do believe he's going to be a star at this level."
Though Young made strides to repair his reputation after a 2006 bat-throwing incident in the minors, the Rays were unlikely to be able to keep him long term. After the 2005 season, he criticized the organization and called it "cheap" for not promoting him. He had a problem-free 2007, take away a rift with Maddon over not running out a ball in the season's last weekend, which Maddon said had "nothing" to do with Young being dealt.
Young said he was excited to go to the Twins and "help out their club with 100 percent effort."
Young's departure depletes the Rays' outfield depth and leaves oft-injured Rocco Baldelli, Jonny Gomes and Elijah Dukes, who is currently on the minor-league inactive list after a year of personal and legal troubles, as the top replacements in rightfield.
Garza, Minnesota's first-round pick in 2005 out of Fresno State, was 5-7 with a 3.69 ERA in 16 appearances last season and is 8-13 with a 4.47 ERA in parts of two seasons. He was the USA Today minor-league pitcher of the year in 2006 and was rated the Twins' top prospect by Baseball America.
Bartlett, 28, is a career .271 hitter and had 23 steals last season and owns a .967 career fielding percentage, but he is coming off an injury-riddled season in which he made a career-high 26 errors, most in the majors by a shortstop. But Friedman said he believes Bartlett should strengthen the team's overall defense.
Friedman called Morlan, 21, "one of the best young bullpen prospects out there." He was 5-3 with 18 saves and a 3.10 ERA at Class A Fort Myers and Double-A New Britain and struck out 99 in 692/3 innings.
Harris, who hit .286 with 12 homers and 59 RBIs, was the starting shortstop but was moved to second when questions about his range and durability arose.
The Rays are also close to a deal to sign veteran free-agent reliever Troy Percival, who had a 1.80 ERA in 40 innings with the Cardinals after coming back from arm problems and could compete with Al Reyes for the closer role.
"Percy has huge admiration for Joe Maddon and he's instructed me to kind of really roll up my sleeves and get something done within the next couple days," said his agent, Paul Cohen.
Also, the team traded right-handed reliever Brian Stokes to the Mets for cash considerations.
Times staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report.
[Last modified November 29, 2007, 00:50:03]