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Analysis

Going Around The Horn With The Meadows Trade

photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays

Now that outfielder Austin Meadows is a former Tampa Bay Ray after Monday night’s trade with the Detroit Tigers (which was predicted by yours truly while in studio with Ian Beckles on Beckles & Recher on 95.3 WDAE last week), we can look at three potential reasons behind why they made the deal now.

Provide A Path For Lowe

Outfielder Josh Lowe (left, with second baseman Brandon Lowe) will likely benefit most from the Rays’ trade of Austin Meadows (photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays)

Former first-round pick Josh Lowe was going to start his second consecutive season in Triple-A waiting for the time to come when he would be called up to the big leagues to stay.  As things stood Monday morning, Tampa Bay already had six outfielders slated to be on their 28-man roster, and there was just no room for their top pick in 2016.  Someone was going to need to be moved.  It was not likely to be either Kevin Kiermaier or Manuel Margot, as both can be free agents at the end of the 2022 season, nor would it be Randy Arozarena, Brett Phillips or the newly-acquired Harold Ramirez.  But in Meadows, trade partners would get two seasons of control and relative cost-certainty, plus coming off a 106 RBI campaign in 2021, the Rays can say they sold high, even if his offense does stay at that level.

And Rays Radio’s Neil Solondz said after the trade that Lowe will indeed be called up for Opening Day April 8 at Tropicana Field.

Give Another Former Top Prospect A Change Of Scenery

Isaac Paredes was a top-5 prospect in the Tigers organization as recently as mid-2021, and has shown the ability to hit at every level in the minors, posting a 132 wRC+ with Triple-A Toledo last season, and a 133 wRC+ with Double-A Erie in 2019 (there was no minor league season in 2020 because of the pandemic).  However, as Chris Brown of Motor City Bengals pointed out late last year, he has struggled to put a charge into the baseball.

There are 486 players who have seen at least 500 pitches since the beginning of 2020, and among that group Paredes ranks:

  • 396th in average exit velocity (86.1 MPH)
  • 418th in max exit velocity (107.3 MPH)
  • 337th in average launch angle (10 degrees)
  • 478th in expected slugging percentage (.364)
  • 441st in average fly ball distance (298 feet)
  • 478th in barrels (1)
  • 476th in barrel rate (0.86)

Paredes wouldn’t be the first prospect turned around by the Rays.  The Pittsburgh Pirates had essentially given up on Tyler Glasnow, using him as a mop-up reliever before dealing him to Tampa Bay (in the same deal with Meadows).  Sometimes, a new voice and a fresh outlook is all you need to get kickstarted.

Loosen The Outfield Logjam In The Minors

With Lowe now starting the year in the big-leagues, it will also allow other prospects, who may have started the year at the same level as they finished 2021.  Players like Ruben Cardenas, who has played well in the Grapefruit League, can move from Double-A to Triple-A if the organization deems him ready.  And from there, a player that would have started in High-A can move to Double-A, and so on.  And while it can be difficult to see a player who has performed well get moved, sometimes it’s what the organization needs to do in order to keep the line moving and give that next big name a chance at the next level.

Written By

Steve Carney is the founder and publisher of St. Pete Nine. One of the people most associated with baseball coverage in Tampa Bay, he spent 13 seasons covering the Rays for flagship radio station WDAE, first as producer of Rays Radio broadcasts, then as beat reporter beginning in 2011. He likes new analytics and aged bourbon, and is the owner of one of the ugliest knuckleballs ever witnessed by baseball scouts.

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