Usually the PTBNL seems almost an afterthought. Not this time, though. A few days ago the Rays traded Scott Kazmir to the Angels and picked up a couple of middling prospects plus the proverbial "player to be named later." Today he was named, and what a player he is:
- Sean Rodriguez, 24, who has posted some some gaudy numbers for Triple-A Salt Lake -- 29 homers and .299/.398/.616 line. Rodriguez is average as a second baseman but could play all over the diamond. He's already played 71 big league games, and didn't qualify for John Sickels Top 20's last year, but was given a B grade the year before. I'd say his surplus value is about $5M.
The Rays free themselves of some much needed payroll and got about the maximum return possible. If Kazmir returns to form, then it'll look good for both sides. I tend to believe that vintage Kazmir won't be coming back, which is why this is quite the coup for the Rays.
Rodriguez hasn't played well in the majors, which is why the Angels were so willing to trade him. But it's worth noting that as well as he's played with Salt Lake this season, he was even better last season, making for a .301/.398/.626 career Triple-A line.
Really, the question isn't whether or not Rodriguez will hit; given a chance, he will. The question is mostly where he'll play, as the Rays are set already at second base with Ben Zobrist. But Zobrist could move back to right field, or Rodriguez could (which would probably make more sense, as Zorilla's a fine defensive second baseman).
They key thing to remember about all of this: the Rays traded two months (including this October) and two years and $24 million in salary obligations, and in return they received roughly 18 years and salary obligations likely to run upwards of $10 million (beyond that, no one can say, though if the prospects pan out the figure will be a lot higher than $10 million).
Think about it like that -- coldly, calculatedly -- and it's a deal the Rays had to make.