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Tampa Bay Rays: Quick thoughts on the Jake Odorizzi trade

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The Rays continue the fire sale, but was the return worth it?

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins and Tampa Bay Rays struck a deal on Saturday for right-hander Jake Odorizzi. The Rays return was Jermaine Palacios.

If you asked yourself, ‘who?’, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

The deal with the Twins was the second of two curious moves by the Rays on Saturday. The first move brought C.J. Cron across country for the ol’ player to be named later. The corresponding move was to dump 2017 All Star Corey Dickerson.

One can imagine why the social media masses screamed tank job last night.

The Rays system is one of the deeper ones in the game, with several top prospects ready to perform at the big league level. But what teams like the New York Yankees have shown is that a team with marginal talent, which the Rays have more than, can continue to compete without turning to a Chicago Cub/ Houston Astro-ian tear down.

Apparently the Rays feel otherwise.

So, who’d they get in Palacios?

How’d the Twins get him? Signed out of Venezuela for $700,000 in 2013.

Position: Shortstop

Height/ Weight: 6-foot/ 145 pounds

Bats/ Throws: Right/ Right

2017 numbers (split between the Midwest and Florida State Leagues):

.296/.333/.454; 21 doubles, 10 triples, 13 home runs; 20-for-35 in stolen bases

Looking at the stat line, Palacios had a fantastic 2017. His home run total alone was 10 more than any other season of his career, impressive for his size. It appears the righty tapped into his pull-side power, judging from his spray chart.

But a deeper look sees many a question mark. Is he quick? Yes, but a career 57 percent success rate shows he needs to improve his instincts on the bases. Getting by on pure speed alone won’t last as he moves up the ladder. He certainly struggles with pitch recognition, mainly breaking stuff. While he doesn’t strikeout a ton (18 percent across both levels) he hardly draws a walk (just four percent of plate appearances).

(He certainly doesn’t have much of a pre-pitch stance, but takes a big lunge at the ball and the swing seems quick enough to suggest he’ll continue to power up on balls if he makes contact. The way he gets fooled for strike three speaks volumes.)

Palacios put up the majority of his numbers in the Midwest League before his promotion to the FSL. It was his second time through the league, which certainly raises some questions. His numbers dropped rather noticeably once in the pitcher-happy FSL.

Not knowing much about his defense, most others seem to feel he is a fringe player at short at best. It seems like he has decent enough range, but an average arm leaves him more as a career utility player than a starting big leaguer.

Odorizzi has not matched his big 2015 in the two years since, watching his FIP (amongst other numbers) climb each season. That said, he is signed through the 2018 season, arbitration eligible in 2019, and hits the market in 2020. That may be the same year Palacios is ready for the big leagues (stress on “may be”). With the Twins now one of the deeper systems in the game, it seems even in a salary dump/rebuild move, they could have snagged a prospect with a little more certainty in his future.