CLEVELAND -- Jesse Crain was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday in a deal that has more than a few moving parts.
The White Sox sent their All-Star reliever and cash considerations to Tampa Bay in exchange for players to be named later or cash two days before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline.
The deal, which was completed after 5 p.m. (EST), is contingent on the health of Crain, who is on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder. In essence: the better and healthier Crain is, the more the White Sox would receive in return.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said the club has been offered a “pool of players” from which to pick and he and Rays GM Andrew Friedman will negotiate to complete their complicated deal in the future.
“It required a fair amount of creativity and trust between the two clubs and given our relationship with them it was fairly easy to ultimately come to an agreement that we felt would make sense for both of us going forward,” Hahn said by phone on Monday evening. “There’s a pool we’re going to continue to cross check and evaluate and negotiate with Andrew when then time is right about which combination of players and or cash we want and makes sense.”
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Had Crain been healthy the return would have been much more cut and dried. Instead, the teams can take up to six months before the trade is complete, per major league rules.
The right-hander, who has been on the disabled list since July 3 and likely won’t play catch for at least 1-2 more days, has had a fantastic season.
He established franchise records with 29 consecutive scoreless innings over 29 straight games on his way to the first All-Star nod of his career. In a relatively thin market for relievers, Crain was clearly at the top of the class and was involved in rumors as early as late June.
But the injury definitely hurt Crain’s value, Hahn said.
Still, there was enough interest to get a deal complete and the timing made more sense to Hahn now than to try and sneak Crain through the waiver wire. The deal also assures the White Sox would get some compensation for Crain, who is a free agent after the season concludes.
“(The injury) played a huge role in doing it this way,” Hahn said. “(The waiver wire) was not a very appealing alternative when compared with negotiating a deal now prior to the deadline and with the complexities involved in what’s fair compensation for a guy currently on the DL. If he’s healthy for the month of July and healthy right now it probably would have been a very different dynamic. …Keep in mind a lot of clubs are interested in acquiring guys for October. There’s also a lot that need him ready for Aug. 1 and ready to contribute to the pennant race starting on Day One. So I do think him being unavailable for the start of August hampered his market to an extent.”
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Crain is confident he can be ready in a short period of time. An hour or so before the trade was reportedly completed, Crain reiterated his previous plan to get back on the field -- one he and the team agreed to -- was more aggressive in an attempt to speed up his availability.
But with a less stressful plan in place Crain thinks he can be back on the mound soon.
“This whole time I felt like I could get healthy,” Crain said. “Just getting on the right program and give me enough time to build up. Rest and build up, I think that’s the most important thing. We were just trying to get me to pitch before the 31st. But in the long run, I wanted to be out there, too. But my arm wasn’t ready for it. Hopefully this time we’ll take our time and be ready for the rest of the year.”
Despite the injury, Crain sounds as if he was prepared for a trade. He received word of a potential move on Sunday afternoon.
Shortly after word leaked, Crain could be seen shaking teammates hands. He also ventured onto the field in street clothes to say his goodbyes.
Crain is excited for the challenge ahead and the chance to pitch in a pennant race. But he’s also sad to close the book on the best chapter of his career.
“Great, great teammates,” Crain said. “Great city. I had an organization that’s been amazing to me. They brought me in here for three years and treated me unbelievably. I got better over three years here, for sure. I can see that. It’s a time I’ll never forget. I just realized how many people have come through the White Sox organization. So it’s pretty cool to be a part of that. I’m going to miss these guys. They’re a great group of guys. One of the best groups I’ve been around. I’ll miss them, for sure. But I’ll stay in touch with a lot of them, and its just part of the game. You move on with a new set of guys.”