Rays Have Earned Benefit Of Doubt In Blake Snell Trade

The Tampa Bay Rays are getting crushed in the court of public opinion about their latest move and understandably so.

The Rays have agreed to trade left-hander Blake Snell, the 2018 American League Cy Young Award winner, to the San Diego Padres for a package of four young players. The deal is pending the players passing physical exams.


Many sceptics are accusing the Rays of punting on 2021 as they are trading Snell after declining the $15-million club option on right-hander Charlie Morton for next season.

That leaves two big holes in the rotation.

However, this is how the Rays have long done business. Once players begin making money, they are shipped to other teams for young players.

That is not necessarily a much different operating procedure than other small-market franchises. The Pittsburgh Pirates traded first baseman and de facto face of the franchise Josh Bell to the Washington Nationals on Christmas Eve for two pitching prospects.

The difference with Tampa Bay, though, is nobody is ever a lifelong Ray. Every player has an expiration date in St. Petersburg.

The Rays have had just three players appearance in at least 1,000 games since joining coming into existence in 1998 as an expansion franchise – Evan Longoria, Carl Crawford and Ben Zobrist.

All were eventually traded.

The same goes for James Shields, the only pitcher to work at least 1,000 innings in franchise history.

The galling part about this trade is Snell has three years left on a five-year, $50-million contract that is considered team friendly. He has salaries of $11.1 million next season, $13.1 million in 2022 and $16.6 million in 2023.

Furthermore, at 28, Snell is seemingly just entering the prime years of his career.

Though Snell followed his Cy Young season with a mediocre one during an injury-plagued 2019, he was 4-2 with a 3.24 ERA in 11 starts this year during the pandemic-shortened season. He then posted a 3.07 ERA in seven postseason outings.

Is a straight salary dump, though? Probably not.

There have been some red flags surrounding Snell since he compiled a 21-5 record and 1.89 ERA in 31 starts in 2018.


The biggest was the loose bodies in is elbow that help sabotage his ’19 season and required arthroscopic surgery to remove.

Also alarming is that In 41 starts over the past two seasons, including the postseason, Snell pitched more than six innings just twice. He never went past 5 2/3 innings in 17 starts in 2020.

Rays manager Kevin Cash was heavily criticized for removing Snell after 5 2/3 innings in Game 6 of the World Series when he had allowed only one run and two hits. The Rays went on to lose that decisive game of the Series 3-1 and Cash has taken plenty of heat in the ensuing the two months.

Some analysts have accused Cash of being a push-button manager, his strategical moves beholden solely to data. The criticism is that Cash should have used his instincts and allowed Snell to keep pitching.


However, nobody knows players better than their own teams. Cash’s instincts were that Snell is a six-inning pitcher and it was time for him to come out of the game.

That is not to denigrate Snell. He is a quality pitcher.

Yet even if this era of strict pitch counts and bullpenning, it is hard to view a pitcher who rarely makes it to the sixth inning as ace material. Cash has enough old-school sensibilities as a former major league catcher to know that.

Snell also did not endear himself to Rays’ officials or many fans back in May for a comment he made on a social gaming site. He threatened to sit out the 2020 season if his $7-million salary was cut significantly.


“I’m not playing unless I get mine,” He said. “I’m not splitting no revenue. I want all mine.”

It was a silly comment to make at a time when the unemployment rate in the United State was soaring because of the pandemic.

Tampa Bay owner Stuart Sternberg and the Rays front office have earned the benefit of the doubt. Despite being a low-revenue franchise that is annually among the worst in attendance, the Rays are almost always competitive.

Since Sternberg bought the team prior to the 2008 season, the Rays have been to the postseason six times in 13 years and twice won the American League pennant.

As mentioned earlier, the Rays have traded star players before. Yet they continue to find a way to stay relevant thanks to good personnel decisions, creative thinking, a strong player development system and good scouting.


Thus, it might be premature to criticize the Rays too heavily for trading Snell.

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Why the pandemic just earned some NBA players millions of extra income

Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Second Round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at the Field House at the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on Sept. 5, 2020

Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The National Basketball Association will begin training camp for the 2020-2021 NBA season this week, just two months after the Los Angeles Lakers and star LeBron James won a championship in the Disney
World bubble.

Like many industries, the NBA as a whole has seen lower revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic, falling short of its revenue projections by $1.5 billion for 2020. Players on one NBA team, however, will see their net income go up due to the pandemic: the Toronto Raptors.

The Raptors are leaving Canada for the 2020-2021 season to play their home games at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay, Fla. The Raptors will share the space with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning for a portion of next season.

The Canadian government denied the Raptors’ request to play in Toronto this year because it would not be safe for teams to constantly be traveling between the two countries, health officials said.

Some Raptors players will get to keep millions of dollars more from their paychecks as a result.

“These guys are gonna save money,” Robert Raiola, a CPA from PKF O’Connor Davies known as the “Sports Tax Guy” on Twitter
told MarketWatch.

See also: Detroit Lions fans donate to Deshaun Watson’s charity after his performance led to the firing of their head coach

The way athletes’ contracts work is they pay taxes based on the state and country each game they play in is located. If a game is in New York, the player’s game check will be taxed according to U.S. and New York state law, for example, and if a game is in Texas, a player’s game check will be taxed in accordance with Texas law. This is often referred to as the “jock tax.”

“American players pay taxes in Canada on a Canadian source income,” Raiola explained.

For next season, the Toronto Raptors home games, which are normally taxed at the “brutally high” Toronto rate, according to Raiola, will be taxed in the U.S., where taxes are lower compared with Canada.

“The difference between the U.S. top rate, 37%, and Canadian top rate, which is 53.5%, is a difference of 16.5% on whatever they make. It’s a lot.”

The 53.5% rate in Canada is for people who have over $220,000 of taxable income, and the 37% rate in the U.S. is for individuals who make $518,401 or more —which applies to nearly every player on the Raptors active roster.

That 16.5% difference in federal taxes between the U.S. and Canada will amount to millions in savings for highly paid Raptors players like Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam, who make more than $30 million a season.

For example, the All-Star guard Lowry will save a minimum of $2.475 million from the move.

In addition to lower federal taxes, there is also no state income tax in Florida. This is also a huge savings for some players. At one point, the Raptors considered playing their home games this season in New Jersey, which has a top income tax rate of 10.75% for people who make over $5 million before ultimately deciding to play in Florida. Playing in Florida as opposed to New Jersey will net Lowry an additional $1.613 million in income tax savings as well.

It’s not known how long the Raptors will play in Florida, but the team was denied access to play in Canada for the near future. Raptors President of Basketball operations Masai Ujiri said the team tried to play next season in Toronto, but couldn’t make the situation work.

“Ultimately, the current public health situation facing Canadians, combined with the urgent need to determine where we will play means that we will begin our 2020-21 season in Tampa, Florida,” Ujiri said in a statement.

Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays faced a similar situation earlier this year, ultimately deciding to play its home games in Buffalo, N.Y.

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