Today marks a momentous anniversary in Twins history: Ten years to the day since the trade that sent Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett to the Tampa Bay Rays for Delmon Young and Brendan Harris. It was the first big trade made by new Twins GM Bill Smith, who had just come into power that October 1st.
Though Delmon Young was considered one of the best young players in baseball at the time — he was the first overall pick in the 2003 MLB draft, and had already played a full year (literally all 162 games) in the majors as a 21-year-old the season before — I remember not being a fan of this trade. Garza was a young, seemingly up-and-coming pitcher (you can never have too much pitching), and Bartlett seemed to finally be the answer for the Twins’ revolving door at shortstop. To me, it felt like Smith was needlessly overpaying for a potential star outfielder to replace Torii Hunter, who had left the Twins to sign with the Angels six days before.
Now that ten years have passed, I can look back and more objectively decide if this was a good or bad trade.
It was a very bad trade.
Offensively, Delmon was actually a pretty decent player for the Twins. In his three and half-ish seasons with the team (2008 to 2011), Delmon hit .287/.324/.429 with 47 home runs. Unfortunately, however, that only garnered Delmon 1.1 career bWAR as a Twin, because his defense was absolutely horrendous. It was difficult to watch, but at least it gave rise to the RandBall’s Stu classics, “Delmon Young Tries New Approach, Uses Hibachi Grill in Left Field During Game” and “The Delmon Young Center For Kids Who Can't Field Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good, Too”.
The other half of the Twins’ return in the trade, Brendan Harris, did even worse. He never really hit anything, and didn’t post a positive defensive bWAR in any of his three seasons with the Twins. All we got out of Harris was the time a squirrel tried to attack him on the field as an announced crowd of 38,962 Twins fans chanted “LETS-GO SQUIRR-EL”.
Meanwhile, Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett went to Tampa Bay and were pretty successful, even playing in the damn World Series! Both played three seasons for the Rays, with Garza accumulating 8.7 bWAR and Bartlett 10.4 bWAR. Bartlett also made the AL All-Star Team as a Ray in 2009.
For those of you not counting at home, the scoreboard for the trade looks like this:
- Rays: 19.1 total bWAR
- Twins: 0.5 total bWAR
So if the Rays were Jim Thome, and the Twins were Delmon Young, a visual representation of this trade would probably look like this:
Since the trade between the Twins and the Rays ten years ago, we have all continued to go about our lives. Here’s what happened to everyone directly involved in the trade, and what they’re up to now:
- Bill Smith remained as the Twins GM, making more ridiculously bad trades until November 7th, 2011, when he was
fireddemoted to another position in the front office. The Twins didn’t rid themselves of Smith completely until just earlier this year, and it took a major overhaul of the front office leadership to do so. Good riddance.
- Matt Garza is the only one (potentially) still playing in the majors. As a 33-year-old in 2017, he posted a 4.94 ERA with 79 strikeouts over 114.2 innings for the Brewers. He’s currently a free agent.
- After leaving the Rays to play for the Padres in 2011 and 2012, Jason Bartlett retired — but only for one season. In 2014, the Twins somehow lured ol’ Captain Chemistry out of retirement, and he made three ridiculous appearances as an outfielder before deciding no, he really should go back to being retired. He now runs a fitness center in Naples, Florida.
- Delmon Young was eventually traded to the Tigers, where he got into an altercation in New York City that involved anti-Semitic slurs, then somehow won an ALCS MVP award and played in the World Series. After leaving the Tigers, Delmon bounced around a couple other teams, but found himself out of the majors before he even turned 30 years old. Still just 32, Delmon is now apparently attempting a comeback, signing up to play for the Melbourne Aces this winter in Australia.
- After his last year with the Twins in 2010, Brendan Harris was relegated to the minors until 2013, when he appeared in 44 games for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Back in 2015, Ex Twins News interviewed Harris for us about his career, Lew Ford, and other stuff, if you’re interested in that. According to his LinkedIn profile, Harris now serves as a scout for the Angels. Good for him!