When the Tampa Bay Rays made the 2008 World Series, they seemed like an up-and-coming team about to become great.
But – finances being what they are – greatness has never been a consistent things for Florida's Major League Baseball teams.
They don't do well at the box office, which led the Miami Marlins into a new ballpark, which also struggles to draw well. The Rays have baseball's worst ballpark and are now nearly on their last legs at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay are completely dismantling what the team previously built. The deal sending outfielder Wil Myers to San Diego on Wednesday was just the latest sign of that.
Myers was sent to the Padres in a three-team deal with the Washington Nationals that netted five prospects for the Rays. It was as Marlins-esque of a trade as it gets.
What is left from 2008?
Grant Balfour, Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria are the only players who remain on the Rays' roster from those on the 2008 World Series team.
Those are also some of the team's most recognizable names as players have shuffled in and out since.
Even the team's management took a huge hit this summer when general manager Andrew Friedman bolted for the Los Angeles Dodgers. That freed up manager Joe Maddon to opt out as well, signing on with the Cubs and opening the door for Tampa native Kevin Cash to get his first major league managerial job.
Since those moves, the Rays have continued to sell off assets, much like they did after falling out of contention and selling off David Price to the Tigers late this summer.
What does the future hold?
To become stable long term, the Rays are going to have to get a better TV deal and bring more fans to the ballpark. Where their home will be remains up in the air.
Thursday is a huge day as far as that goes when the St. Petersburg City Council votes on whether the team can look as other sites in the area for a new stadium.
It's a big deal to the Rays, and to owner Stuart Sternberg.
“If it doesn't pass, we're doomed to leave,” Sternberg told TBO.com. “I'm not taking this team out of the area. But that's me, and the chances of me owning this team in 2023 if we don't have a new stadium are probably nil. Somebody else will take it and move it. It's not a threat, it's just the reality.”
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