Moving Meadows now clears a lane for Josh Lowe, MLB Pipeline’s 50th-ranked overall prospect, who was recalled for the Rays’ Opening Day roster. Tampa Bay’s first-round pick in the 2016 Draft, Lowe hit .291/.381/.535 with 22 homers and 26 steals for Triple-A Durham last season but found himself boxed out of Tampa Bay’s outfield -- aside from a two-game cameo in September -- due to a crowded depth chart.
As unexpected as the timing of Monday’s deal may have been, especially with Meadows sitting out Monday after removing himself from the Rays’ game on Sunday due to bilateral quad tightness, Tampa Bay has been considering trades involving Meadows throughout Spring Training.
Rays get: INF Isaac Paredes and Competitive Balance Round B Draft pick
Tigers get: OF Austin Meadows
The Rays’ outfield mix already included more players than available spots, and the group still includes Kevin Kiermaier, Randy Arozarena, Manuel Margot, Brett Phillips, Harold Ramírez and now Lowe, with versatile prospect Vidal Bruján and the recently acquired Luke Raley as depth. The left-handed-hitting Meadows, meanwhile, was likely to work some in right field while splitting DH duties with Ramírez and others to start the season.
The 26-year-old Meadows, acquired alongside Tyler Glasnow and Shane Baz for Chris Archer in a 2018 Trade Deadline deal with the Pirates, is coming off a season in which he hit .234/.315/.458 with 27 homers and a career-high 106 RBIs in 142 games. The 2019 All-Star played a big part in Tampa Bay’s lineup last season, the highest-scoring offense in franchise history, by batting .299 with runners in scoring position and leading the Majors with 19 game-winning RBIs.
The 23-year-old Paredes will begin the season with the Rays’ Triple-A Durham affiliate, as Tampa Bay already has a full infield featuring shortstop Wander Franco, second baseman Brandon Lowe, corner infielder Yandy Díaz, first baseman Ji-Man Choi and slick-fielding utility infielder Taylor Walls. But Paredes will provide the Rays with more Major League-ready depth in the upper Minors, and they are intrigued by the right-handed hitter’s offensive profile despite his uninspiring big league numbers thus far.
In 57 games over the last two seasons, Paredes has hit .215/.290/.302 with two homers and 11 RBIs while playing shortstop, second and third base. He spent most of last season with Triple-A Toledo, where he hit .265/.397/.451 with 11 homers and more walks (56) than strikeouts (47) in 72 games. He was once ranked among the game’s top 100 prospects by Baseball America, checking in at No. 94 in 2019 and No. 100 in ’20, and played in the Futures Game at Progressive Field in 2019.
The additional Draft pick the Rays acquired will take place between the second and third rounds. Interestingly, they will now have back-to-back picks in Competitive Balance Round B, as the Tigers were initially slated to pick after the Rays when the order for this year’s Day 1 Competitive Balance rounds was set.