The Tampa Bay Rays have been known for their ability to build a competitive team with a low payroll, relying on smart trades and player development to succeed. One key player on their roster is infielder Joey Wendle, who has become an All-Star and integral part of the team’s success.
We’ll take a look at how the Rays acquired Joey Wendle and the impact he has had on the team. Understanding the story of how the Rays acquired Wendle provides insight into the team’s strategy and highlights the importance of smart trading in building a competitive roster.
Background on Joey Wendle
Joey Wendle was born on April 26, 1990, in Wilmington, Delaware. He attended Avon Grove High School in West Grove, Pennsylvania, where he played baseball, football, and basketball.
After high school, Wendle attended West Chester University, where he played college baseball for the West Chester Golden Rams.
Wendle was drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 MLB draft by the Cleveland Indians. He spent three seasons in the Indians’ minor league system, where he steadily progressed through the ranks, earning recognition for his hitting ability and defensive versatility.
Wendle made his Major League debut with the Oakland Athletics on April 16, 2016. He appeared in 36 games for the A’s that season, primarily playing second base and batting .260 with 11 RBI.
Wendle spent the majority of the 2017 season in the minor leagues but was called up to the A’s in September, where he played in 18 games and batted .308 with a .949 OPS. Despite his promising performance, the A’s traded Wendle to the Tampa Bay Rays that offseason.
On December 12, 2017, the Tampa Bay Rays acquired Joey Wendle from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for minor league pitcher Jonah Heim.
Heim was a catcher who had been drafted by the Rays in the fourth round of the 2013 draft but was traded to the Athletics in 2015.
At the time of the trade, Heim was considered a solid defensive catcher with good plate discipline, but his offensive production had been underwhelming in the minor leagues.
The trade was not considered a major move at the time, with Wendle being viewed as a utility player who could provide depth in the infield.
However, Wendle had impressed in his brief time with the A’s, and some analysts saw potential for him to become a solid everyday player.
Heim, on the other hand, was seen as a long-term project who was likely several years away from contributing at the Major League level.
In hindsight, the trade has been a significant win for the Rays. Wendle has become a key player for the team, playing multiple positions and providing consistent hitting and defense.
In his first season with the Rays in 2018, Wendle played in 139 games and batted .300 with seven home runs, 61 RBI, and 16 stolen bases. He also earned recognition for his defense, winning a Fielding Bible Award for his work at second base.
Heim, on the other hand, has yet to make his Major League debut and has struggled with injuries during his minor league career.
While he has shown some improvement at the plate in recent seasons, he has not yet demonstrated the potential that was hoped for when he was traded for Wendle.
Overall, the trade has been a significant win for the Rays, providing them with a versatile and productive player in Joey Wendle while the Athletics received a player who has yet to contribute at the Major League level.
Impact on the Rays
Joey Wendle’s impact on the Rays was immediate, as he became an everyday player in his first season with the team. He provided a much-needed spark at the top of the lineup, hitting .300 with a .354 on-base percentage and a .435 slugging percentage.
He also showed off his versatility, playing at least 10 games at four different positions (second base, third base, shortstop, and left field).
Wendle’s role on the team has continued to evolve over the years, as he has proven to be one of the team’s most valuable players.
In addition to his defensive versatility, he has developed into a consistent hitter and has been one of the team’s most reliable performers in clutch situations.
In 2021, he earned his first All-Star selection and finished the season with a .262 batting average, 10 home runs, 56 RBI, and 16 stolen bases.
Wendle’s success with the Rays has been a marked improvement from his time with the Cleveland Indians and Oakland Athletics. In his three seasons in the minor leagues with the Indians, Wendle batted .288 with 20 home runs and 124 RBI.
In his limited Major League appearances with the A’s, he batted .266 with one home run and 13 RBI. Since joining the Rays, he has batted .281 with 33 home runs and 204 RBI.
Wendle’s success with the Rays is a testament to the team’s ability to identify and develop talented players who may have been overlooked by other teams.
Comparison of Joey Wendle’s Stats with Different Teams
|Tampa Bay Rays
Note: Data accurate as of the end of the 2021 MLB season.
What other players were involved in the trade between the Rays and Athletics besides Joey Wendle and Jonah Heim?
The trade only involved Wendle and Heim. No other players or prospects were included in the deal.
What were some of the other factors that led to Joey Wendle’s success with the Rays?
In addition to his own hard work and talent, Wendle’s success with the Rays can be attributed to the team’s strong emphasis on player development, as well as their unique and innovative strategies when it comes to game planning and team management.
Have the Rays made any other notable trades in recent years?
Yes, the Rays are known for their shrewd trading and have made several notable deals in recent years. Some examples include trading pitcher Chris Archer to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a package of prospects in 2018, and trading outfielder Tommy Pham to the San Diego Padres for infielder Jake Cronenworth and outfielder Hunter Renfroe in 2019.
What is Joey Wendle’s contract status with the Rays?
Joey Wendle is currently under team control with the Rays through the 2024 season. He signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the team for the 2022 season, avoiding arbitration.
Joey Wendle has become an integral part of the Tampa Bay Rays’ success in recent years, providing versatility, consistency, and reliability to the team.
Understanding how the Rays acquired Wendle highlights the importance of smart trading and the team’s ability to identify and develop talented players.
The trade with the Oakland Athletics has been a significant win for the Rays, providing them with a valuable player in exchange for a minor league prospect who has yet to make his Major League debut.
Wendle’s success with the Rays is a testament to his hard work and the team’s ability to create an environment that fosters player development and growth.
The story of how the Rays acquired Joey Wendle is just one example of the team’s ability to build a competitive roster through smart trading and player development, and it serves as a reminder that success in baseball is not always about spending big money on big-name players.