ST. PETERSBURG -- Perhaps the biggest trade in Rays history took place on Nov. 28, 2007. But did Tampa Bay get the best end of the deal it made with the Twins?
After Delmon Young finished second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting behind Boston's Dustin Pedroia, the Rays' starting right fielder was packaged along with infielder Brendan Harris and outfielder Jason Pridie and shipped to the Twins for right-hander Matt Garza, shortstop Jason Bartlett and right-hander Eduardo Morlan.
Two and a half seasons later, talk can still be heard about which team came out on top after the trade -- particularly after Garza tossed the first no-hitter in team history Monday night against the Tigers.
At the end of the 2007 season, Young and Joe Maddon did not see eye-to-eye after the Rays' manager pulled Young from the club's 161st game of the season in Toronto. Maddon did not feel like Young hustled running out a ground ball. After the game, Young commented that he was done for the year, while Maddon showed his displeasure with the rookie, noting that he felt Young showed a "blatant disrespect" for the game and the team.
Little else was said about the matter, but Young was traded.
Over in the Twins' camp, Garza was a pitcher with electric stuff, but if things didn't go his way, he might implode at any moment. Garza's hyper behavior and odd idiosyncrasies only added to the perception that Minnesota had a problem child.
So many viewed the trade as two teams exchanging talented players with some baggage.
Initially, the deal seemed to be weighted in favor of the Rays, given the fact that in 2008 Garza went 11-7 with a 3.70 ERA while Bartlett gave Tampa Bay a steadying presence at shortstop and hit .286 with a home run and 37 RBIs. And one more thing, the club went to the World Series and Garza earned MVP honors in the American League Championship Series after dominating the Red Sox.
Garza posted an 8-12 record with a 3.95 ERA in 2009. In addition, he logged 203 innings. And this season he's off to an 11-5 mark with a 4.06 ERA and he is equipped with the kind of stuff to do what he did Monday night against the Tigers on any given night.
Bartlett had an outstanding 2009 season in which he hit .320 with 14 home runs and 66 RBIs before dipping to .241 with two home runs and 35 RBIs. But he has hit well with runners in scoring position
Meanwhile, Young hit .290 with 10 home runs and 69 RBIs in 2008 and .284 with 12 home runs and 60 RBIs in '09. Sound numbers, but not near what many forecasted for Young, who seemingly had all the tools to fulfill expectations.
The passage of time can lend extra perspective on any trade, which it has on this one as Young seemingly has come into his own this season. Entering Tuesday night's action, he was hitting .328 with 13 home runs and 75 RBIs. The Twins are a game out of first place in the AL Central and they likely would not be in that position if Young was not patrolling left field.
Harris, a utility infielder with occasional pop in his bat, enjoyed modest success in 2008 and '09 before struggling this season. After hitting .157 in 43 games, he was demoted to Triple-A Rochester.
Neither Pridie nor Morlan are currently in the Major Leagues.
So who got the better part of the deal?
"I think it's a great trade, because both teams have benefitted," Maddon said. "A couple of years ago, we got to the World Series. [We] could not have done it without Matt and J.B. Now this year Minnesota has become a better team because of what Delmon is doing, but we're still getting the same benefits out of our guys."
Maddon conceded that Garza and Bartlett have not had big years this season.
"Nevertheless, they're still a big part of what we're doing right now," Maddon said. "To me, a trade that benefits both teams is the way a trade should occur. And when you do trade responsibly like that, you're able to make trades in the future because people know you're giving up something in return, too. It's a classic good baseball trade."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.