7/18/2013 10:00 A.M. ET
Rays' all-time Top 5 in-season trades
A look back at some deals that helped put Tampa Bay over the top
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
Will the Rays swing a deal before the July 31 Trade Deadline? Sometimes it takes years to determine how well a team did in a trade. With the benefit of hindsight, the following are the five most notable trades in franchise history that were conducted during the regular season, according to beat reporter Bill Chastain. Agree? Disagree? Comment below:
1. July 30, 2004: Rays acquire left-hander Scott Kazmir and right-hander Jose Diaz from the Mets for right-hander Victor Zambrano and right-hander Bartolome Fortunato.
Kazmir would prove to be a pivotal arm in Tampa Bay's ascent to the top of the American League in 2008. During his six-year tenure with the team, he went 55-44.
On the back end of Kazmir's time with the Rays, he was traded to the Angels on Aug. 28, 2009, in a deal that brought aboard infielder Sean Rodriguez and left-hander Alex Torres.
2. June 20, 2006: Acquired left-hander J.P. Howell from the Royals for outfielder Joey Gathright and infielder Fernando Cortez.
Howell began his tenure with the Rays as a starter but ultimately found his way to the bullpen, where he became a weapon against both right-handers and left-handers. In 2008, Howell's first year in the bullpen, he pitched a career-high 89 1/3 innings, compiling a 2.92 ERA.
3. July 12, 2006: Acquired right-hander Mitch Talbot and shortstop Ben Zobrist from the Astros for infielder Aubrey Huff.
Zobrist began his time with Tampa Bay as a shortstop before transitioning into a power-hitting utility player. Talbot became the player to be named in the deal with the Indians in which the Rays acquired catcher Kelly Shoppach.
4. July 27, 2007: Acquired right-hander Grant Balfour from the Brewers for right-hander Seth McClung.
The hard-throwing Balfour became a mainstay in the Rays' bullpen.
From 2007-10, Balfour made 203 appearances, posting a 14-7 record with a 3.33 ERA and 234 strikeouts.
5. July 28, 2007: Acquired right-hander Dan Wheeler from the Astros in exchange for infielder Ty Wigginton.
For Wheeler, the stint was his second tour of duty with Tampa Bay.
The veteran right-hander not only pitched well, he brought a professional presence to the bullpen and became an instant leader on a young team.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.