A few days ago, the Tampa Bay Rays again did what the organization tends to do: trade an established veteran player for a promising prospect.
Tampa Bay sent second baseman Logan Forsythe to the Los Angeles Dodgers for prized pitching prospect Jose De Leon, a 24-year-old right-hander. The move may have cost Tampa Bay a reliable player, but does help replenish a farm system that is considered middle-of-the-pack at the moment.
Forsythe has had the two seasons of his career with the Rays, hitting .281 with 17 homers and 68 RBIs in 2015 and then belting a career-high 20 homers to go with 52 RBIs and a .264 average this past season. He also was considered an above-average defender.
In his place, Tampa Bay does land Jose De Leon who is regarded as one of better pitching prospects in the game. He is considered the third-best overall prospect in the Dodgers’ system after going 7-1 with a 2.61 ERA at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He struck out 111 batters in 86.1 innings there, then was 2-0 with a 6.35 ERA during a September call-up to the Dodgers.
While the trade of Forsythe won’t go down with the current roster as Rays third baseman Evan Longoria already has voiced displeasure over it, Tampa Bay has used its developmental program to good benefit in the past. The Rays have usually produced some solid pitching prospects in the past such as David Price, Matt Moore, Jeremy Hellickson, and Chris Archer.
However, there have been some concern over the dip in its farm system of late. In mid-January, ESPN’s Keith Law rated the Rays’ farm system as the 19th-best out the 30 Major League Baseball organizations. This was prior to the De Leon trade, so it is possible the Rays have moved a couple of spots up.
In particular, 2016 was a rough year for some of the Rays top arms. The top pitching prospect Brent Honeywell dealt with injuries while other top arms such as Taylor Guerrieri and Jacob Faria took steps back in their development. In De Leon, the Rays get a player who is almost major-league ready and possibly by as soon as Opening Day in 2017.
After going 68-94 in 2016, Tampa Bay may be looking to collectively bring another set of promising prospects to fruition with an eye toward having a successful run a few seasons down the road.