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CLEVELAND – In a complicated deal that needed approval from the office of commissioner Bud Selig, the Chicago White Sox traded All-Star reliever Jesse Crain and cash considerations to the Tampa Bay Rays for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Crain is currently on the disabled list with a sore shoulder and has not pitched since June 29. He had a setback last week, and it's uncertain when he will pitch again.
"I had great, great teammates in a great city," Crain said Monday shortly after the deal was announced. "I had an organization that's been amazing to me. They brought me in here for three years and treated me unbelievably. I think I got better over three years here, for sure. I can see that. It's time I'll never forget. I just realized how many people have come through the White Sox organization. So it's pretty cool to be a part of that."
The level of player the White Sox would get in return will depend on Crain's performance, a league source told ESPNChicago's Bruce Levine.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said the deal was complicated by the fact that Crain was on the DL and a true determination of his value could not be made. Instead of leaving things to chance, the White Sox will select from a pool of players at a later date.
"It required a fair amount of creativity and trust between the two clubs, and given our relationship with them it was fairly easy to ultimately come to an agreement that we felt would make sense for both of us going forward," Hahn said. "There's a pool we're going to continue to cross check and evaluate and negotiate with [Rays GM] Andrew [Friedman] when the time is right about which combination of players and or cash we want and makes sense."
With Crain's contract expiring at the end of the season the White Sox wanted to move the right-hander while getting the best possible return. They could have kept him and tried to slip him through waivers in August, but the club felt that put them at a disadvantage.
If Crain was claimed, it would reduce the White Sox's negotiating power to the claiming team, likely reducing their return even further.
"Keep in mind a lot of clubs are interested in acquiring guys for October," Hahn said. "There's also a lot that need him ready for Aug. 1 and be ready to contribute to the pennant race starting on Day 1. So, I do think him being unavailable for the start of August hampered his market to an extent."
Crain was one of baseball's top setup men in the first half of the season with a 0.74 ERA, a 1.15 WHIP and 19 holds. He earned his first All-Star selection as a result, but his injury prevented him from playing in the game.
"Obviously, we haven't played to our expectations here, so to get a chance to get healthy and pitch for a team in first place right now, there's nothing more you can ask for," Crain said.
Crain took to Twitter to extend his gratitude to the White Sox and the city of Chicago, while also showing his excitement in joining the Rays.
Thank you to @whitesox the fans and especially my coaches and teammates!! Will miss them all, and won't ever forget my time in Chicago!— Jesse Crain (@JesseCrain) July 30, 2013
Can't wait to join @RaysBaseball, honored to be given this opportunity!!— Jesse Crain (@JesseCrain) July 30, 2013
There are no rules in baseball's collective bargaining agreement against trading players who are on the disabled list. The White Sox traded for Jake Peavy in 2009 when the former San Diego Padres pitcher was on the DL.
Crain, who has had similar shoulder tendinitis two other times in his career, is confident he will be throwing again within the week. A healthy Crain not only benefits the Rays, it also helps the White Sox get a better return package.
"Rest and build up, I think that's the most important thing," Crain said. "We were just trying to get me to pitch before the 31st. In the long run, I wanted to be out there, too, but my arm wasn't ready for it. Hopefully, this time we'll take our time and be ready for the rest of the year."
Information from ESPNChicago's Bruce Levine was used in this report.