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Rays planning ahead with haul in Price trade

Club gets rotation piece Smyly, top prospect Adames; adds infield depth in Franklin @wwchastain

ST. PETERSBURG -- According to Andrew Friedman, the Rays' executive vice president of baseball operations, Tampa Bay must always keep an eye on the future while tending to the present.

That strategy was in play for Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, before which the Rays traded ace David Price to the Tigers in a deal that also included the Mariners.

"Obviously, all three guys were really important to us in the transaction, and we were excited to acquire all three," Friedman said.

Here's a look at the players the Rays got in return:

Drew Smyly, LHP
Smyly, 25, is 16-12 with a 3.46 ERA in parts of three seasons with the Tigers. He has made 106 Major League appearances, of which 35 have been starts.

He will join the Major League club and move into the starting rotation, making his first start Tuesday at Oakland.

"Tampa is excited to have me, so I'm excited to be there," Smyly said.

After performing well as a reliever last season, Smyly began the 2014 season as the Tigers' No. 5 starter, but he initially pitched out of the bullpen due to the early off-days. Since then, Smyly has been solid, posting a 3.77 ERA through 100 1/3 innings. In addition, he has averaged 7.8 strikeouts per nine innings, while walking just 2.8 per nine.

Smyly has limited left-handed hitters to a .192 batting average in his career, including a .164 mark this season, seventh lowest in the American League. On Friday, he set a career high with 11 strikeouts at Angel Stadium. Smyly pitched in each of the past two postseasons with the Tigers, posting a 1-0 record and 2.57 ERA over 10 relief appearances. 

Prospect acquired by Rays
  • Willy Adames, ss: The Tigers gave Adames $420,000 to sign during the 2012 international signing period, and the early returns were quite good. His advanced feel for the game belies his young age, as he was one of the youngest regulars in the Midwest League at age 18 at the time of the trade. While his numbers don't jump off the page, he more than held his own, and some felt he was the top prospect in the Tigers' organization. He has an advanced approach at the plate, with excellent bat speed and the chance to hit for some power as he matures and adds strength. He should also develop into a better all-around hitter as he makes contact more consistently. The infielder's hands and arm work very well from the premium infield position. Whether he has the speed and range to stick remains to be seen, but the good news is he could profile well at second or third in the future. It may take a while, but Adames could be the key part in the return for David Price when all is said and done.
Top 20 Prospects: Rays | Tigers
-- Jonathan Mayo

Smyly spoke about what he learned in Detroit.

"Just pitching in the big leagues, what it takes, work ethic," Smyly said. "We've had a great rotation I got to be a part of, watching those guys work, learning every day. Our whole team, pretty much, is veteran guys. It's been a privilege to play with them. Hopefully, I can take it to Tampa and do well."

The Rays will be able to control Smyly through the 2018 season.

The Tigers drafted Smyly out of the University of Arkansas in the second round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. He made his Major League debut in 2012.

Said Friedman: "We'll spot him into our rotation immediately. He's a guy that we feel like has excellent command, good secondary stuff, and we still feel like there's upside remaining with him. He's a guy we're excited to get. [He has] four more years of control, and we feel like he'll slot in really well with our four other guys and will allow us to continue to have our rotation be a strength for us."

Nick Franklin, 2B/SS
The Mariners drafted Franklin, 23, in the first round (27th pick) of the 2009 Draft out of Lake Brantley High School in Altamonte Springs, Fla. He will report to Triple-A Durham.

Franklin made his Major League debut with the Mariners on May 27, 2013. Three days later, he hit his first two career home runs. In 119 games with the Mariners, Franklin has hit .214 with 12 homers and 47 RBIs.

Robinson Cano's arrival changed Franklin's future with the Mariners. Franklin had a solid season in 2013, but he saw limited action this season. However, he has continued to pepper Minor League pitching.

In parts of six Minor League seasons, Miller has hit .288 with 55 home runs and 219 RBIs in 469 games.

Though he has primarily played second base (101 games), Miller has also played shortstop, right field and third base at the Major League level.

Said Friedman: "He's a young infielder who can really play anywhere. For the most part, he's spent most of his time on the dirt. But we feel like he's versatile and athletic enough to move around. He has tremendous power. He's a switch-hitter with a very advanced approach. He's much further along from the left side of the plate than the right side. But we've seen progress there. And a guy that has that kind of power who can play the middle infield, both spots, we felt like he's a player who can help us win a lot of games in the future."

Willy Adames, SS
Adames, 18, hails from the Dominican Republic and had never played in the United States until this season. But he made the jump from the Tigers' Dominican Summer League affiliate to the Class A Midwest League, where he has started at shortstop and performed well on offense and defense.

Currently ranking by as the Rays' No. 2 prospect, Adames was hitting .269 with six home runs and 50 RBIs for West Michigan. He will remain in the Midwest League but will move over to the Rays' affiliate, Bowling Green.

Adames has excellent bat speed and the chance to hit for some power as he matures and adds strength. With his hands and arm a good fit for the premium infield position, he could profile well at second or third in the future.

Adames was the Tigers' most expensive pickup during the 2012-13 international signing period, receiving a $420,000 bonus to turn pro out of the Dominican Republic. He is one of the youngest everyday players in the Midwest League.

Said Friedman: "He's really an interesting prospect. He's the youngest position player in the Midwest League. He's a shortstop with a really good arm. ... His ability in the batter's box really stands out to us, and he has a chance to be a really good player."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for

Tampa Bay Rays, Willy Adames, Nick Franklin, Drew Smyly