All too often, you hear someone saying that this game is “just a business.” This was all too apparent yesterday as our parent club was trying to bolster its starting rotation by making one last addition before the rosters freeze on September 1. While the trading deadline passed on July 31, trades can still occur through September 1 if players clear waivers.
We got to the stadium yesterday amidst rumors of the Angels and Tampa Bay Rays being close to a deal that would send starting pitcher Scott Kazmir to the Angels in exchange for some Minor League prospects. What brought these trade talks closer to home was that one of the prospects on the trading block was teammate Matt Sweeney. Sweeney had apparently heard about these rumors from teammates through an MLB.com article before he even got a call from his agent. While we set out to begin our daily routines, Sweeney was off to get a physical. After coming in from batting practice, ESPN was reporting the story that the Angels and Rays were close to completing this trade; all the while Sweeney is sitting in our clubhouse waiting to hear his fate. Right after our game started that night against Stockton, Sweeney got word that the deal went through and he packed up his things and left.
The other big component of this deal was starting pitcher and former teammate, Alex Torres, who was in Double-A Arkansas. What awaits to be seen for the ultimate conclusion of this deal is the “player to be named later,” which is the selection from a list of agreed upon names that the Rays will choose at a later date.
As I have discussed in the past, you never know when teammates are coming or going. It is infrequent that a significant trade like this hits as far down the Minor League ladder that it did. But, this is just another instance that supports the notion that in the end, baseball is not a game; rather, it is a business. Free agents sign with teams that pay them the most money and give them the best shot at winning a World Series. Teams out of contention deal away top players in the attempt to gain enough younger prospects to compete down the road. Owners dismantle teams after winning a World Series to ensure their pockets stay lined with the fruits of their recent labor. As long as baseball has been played, there have always been people in it more for money and prestige than wins and losses. While there are arguments both for and against this ideal, it is one that will always be present as long as money drives the game.