In a surprising turn of events, the Tampa Bay Rays traded away 24-year-old outfielder Wil Myers to the San Diego Padres in a three-way deal that also included the Nationals. The full trade sent Myers, Jose Castillo, Gerardo Reyes, and Ryan Hanigan to San Diego, Jake Bauers, Rene Rivera, Burch Smith, Travis Ott, and Steven Souza to the Rays, and Joe Ross and Trea Turner to the Nationals. While this move had nothing to do with the Yankees, it still benefitted them in a number of ways, both immediately and for the future.
1. Goodbye Wil Myers
The best part of seeing Wil Myers traded is knowing that he's now leaving the AL East and won't be seen by the Yankees too often. Yankees pitching is probably happy about that too, seeing as how he's hit .304/.345/.559 against them with seven home runs in 110 plate appearances. That's a .904 OPS against one team when his next best mark is a .760 OPS against the Blue Jays with a career OPS of only .724. Essentially, much of his career has happened against the Yankees. Despite all the hoopla over the James Shields for Wil Myers trade, it turns out he hasn't really been the can't-miss prospect that everyone thought the Royals traded away. Except when he faces Yankees pitching, so Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and CC Sabathia are probably relieved to see him go.
2. Devil Rays
The departure of Wil Myers is just one more move in a long line of events that have taken apart the Rays this offseason. Tampa Bay general manager Andrew Friedman left the organization to join the Dodgers and by doing so he triggered a clause in Joe Maddon's contract that allowed the longtime manager to opt out of his deal and leave for Chicago. Without any form of leadership intact, the organization traded away Matt Joyce, Jeremy Hellickson, Cesar Ramos, Joel Peralta, and Ryan Hanigan. While none were as significant a loss as Myers was, it's clear that the organization is in the midst of a fire sale that could eventually lead to a full rebuild. The best part about this for the Yankees is that it doesn't seem like the Rays really got all that much in return for all their players. Rene Rivera sounds like a solid young catcher, but gone are the days when Friedman could turn an All-Star into another All-Star. The Rays think they can replace Myers with Souza, but as a 25-year-old who just made his major league debut this year, he's not exactly a sure thing–not yet at least. So, as bad as we all think the Yankees are going to be this year, they'll be that much better thanks to the destruction of the Rays. At least, that's the hope.
3. Hello Ian Desmond?
If you haven't been paying attention, you probably missed the fact that there are less and less quality free agents out there each year. That's because the game has changed and now teams can lock up their stars to affordable deals before they can reach free agency. That means that the Yankees have less of a chance to add pieces that they might need because those players are instead signing longterm deals with their team when they are still young. That's one reason why the Yankees went out of their way to trade for Didi Gregorius. There's a chance they could turn him into a real commodity over the next four years and be able to bypass the entire free agent process all together. There was once talk that the Yankees would try to find a stopgap at the position until Ian Desmond hit free agency after the 2015 season, but with this ever-changing game it was likely that the Nationals would lock him up before long.
Now that Washington has top prospect Trea Turner in their organization, it's possible that they could now view Desmond as expendable and instead go with the younger option in a year or two. This all comes at the benefit of the Yankees because, if Gregorius proves to be nothing more than a utility infielder, New York could change gears and go after the top shortstop on the market when he'll only be 30 years old. Wil Myers would then be credited with providing the Yankees with their shortstop of the future.
The Wil Myers trade could end up having a lasting effect on the Yankees organization, even though New York had nothing to do with the deal. It already helps them now, and though it's a long shot, it could end up getting even better for them if it means the Rays begin to fall out of contention and Ian Desmond becomes available to them. We'll just have to wait and see how good it gets.