Rays Get Prospects For Garza





ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — Even as the Rays have been lauded in recent years for the depth and quality of their farm system, they knew there has been something of an imbalance as most of their top prospects have been pitchers.

But they have addressed that with a recent trade that brought a few new position players into the system.

The most heralded is shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, who could be the new shortstop of the future after being acquired from the Cubs in the eight-player deal centered around Matt Garza. The trade also included outfield prospect Brandon Guyer and catcher Robinson Chirinos, along with pitching prospect Chris Archer. The Rays also got outfielder Sam Fuld, who is expected to compete for a backup job in the majors this season, and gave up outfielder Fernando Perez and lefty Zach Rosscup.

"As everybody knows, we're a lot heavier on the pitching side than we are on the position player side, so adding the position players that we did in this deal is something we feel really balances out the premium system that we have in place," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said.

The depth is more important than ever to the Rays, as they seek to cut major league payroll amid an increasingly expensive market for free agents.

Archer is considered the highest-rated of the prospects acquired, while Chirinos may be the first to have impact on the big league level, but Lee could end up the biggest key to the deal, potentially supplanting Tim Beckham as the shortstop of the future.

"He's a plus defender at shortstop with plus-plus foot speed," Friedman said. "A lefthanded hitter with really good contact skills, good discipline. The question is how much power will he have. He's a young guy who was 19 in Low-A last year and he's getting more physically mature each year."

COOL RAYS

• Twenty-five prospects, including Beckham and 2010 first-rounder Josh Sale, attended a four-day winter development program, working out at Tropicana Field, getting media training and making public appearances.

• Irene Hunsicker, the wife of Rays senior vice president Gerry Hunsicker, died Jan. 6 after a long battle with cancer. Rays officials headed to Houston on Jan. 14  for a memorial service.