1. Rays

Rays designate fading prospect Hak-Ju Lee for assignment

Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Hak-Ju Lee during a pre Spring Training workout at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Friday, Feb. 20, 2015.
Published Sep. 2, 2015

Former top prospect Lee designated for assignment

BALTIMORE — SS Hak-Ju Lee came to the Rays as the key piece — more so than RHP Chris Archer — of the five-player package they got from the Cubs in the January 2011 deal for RHP Matt Garza.

"He was the king of the trade," Archer said, "and I was the bishop."

But Tuesday, the Rays gave up control of Lee, designating him for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for third C Luke Maile, giving them 10 days to trade or release him or (they hope) pass the former top prospect through waivers.

"We are managing a full roster right now, and it forces difficult decisions like this one," baseball operations president Matt Silverman said. "While Hak-Ju has battled through difficult circumstances the past couple years, he's still a young ballplayer with room for continued development."

Lee, 24, has not been the same dynamic speedy and slick-fielding player since sustaining a serious left knee injury in an April 2013 game at Triple-A Durham, hitting just .212 in the past two seasons with the Bulls.

"He was as sure of a big-league player when he was 19, 20, 21, that I've ever seen," Archer said. "Just mainly because of his ability to play defense and he could really control the bat. … I think that's what can be tricky about trading for prospects all the time. At 19 in low (Class) A you can be literally the best player in the league, and four-five years later you can be out of baseball. He had injuries and stuff that slowed him down, took away from his game maybe a little bit, but you just don't know."

Marc Topkin, Times staff writer


  1. FILE - In this July 24, 2019, file photo, Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander throws to an Oakland Athletics batter during a baseball game in Houston. Verlander has been awarded his second AL Cy Young Award. MICHAEL WYKE  |  AP
    The Mets’ Jacob deGrom wins the NL award for the second straight year.
  2. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash talks with reporters in the dugout the day after clinching a playoff spot. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Former Ray Rocco Baldelli wins top honors after his first season with the Twins, Aaron Boone was second.
  3. Erik Neander, Tampa Bay Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, addresses the media during a press conference at Tropicana Field Friday, Oct. 11, 2019 in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Award came from a vote of team executives; Yankees Cashman was second.
  4. Flanked by his mother, Michelle Alonso, left, father Peter Alonso (blue shirt, standing), girlfriend Haley Walsh, right, and friends, New York Mets rookie first baseman Pete Alonso, 24, reacts as he finds out he has won the National League Rookie of the Year award on Monday at his home in Tampa.  Alonso, a Plant High graduate, made a grand entrance to the big leagues, hitting a major-league rookie and team-record 53 home runs for the Mets. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The easiest part of the day for the travel-weary first baseman may have been receiving the prestigious award.
  5. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash speaks at a news conference before an Oct. 1 American League wild-card game practice in Oakland, Calif. JEFF CHIU  |  AP
    Marc Topkin: The Twins Rocco Baldelli and Yankees Aaron Boone are the other two finalists for the hard-to-define award.
  6. Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe (8) is showered with sunflower seeds after hitting a solo homer in the fourth inning against the Houston Astros in Game 3 of the American League Division Series Monday, Oct. 7, 2019 in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Former Plant High and Florida star Pete Alonso a favorite for NL Rookie of the Year, to be announced Monday
  7. Erik Neander, Tampa Bay Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager, says of the general manager meetings, which start this week, "We’d love to find a way to score a lot more runs without sacrificing run prevention.'' DIRK SHADD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Rays Tales: Erik Neander says 2019 success provides “a stronger starting point” than they have had in a while. Plus, rumblings.
  8. Manager Kevin Cash has led the Rays to back-to-back seasons of 90 or more victories. He finished third in the American League Manager of the Year voting in 2018 and is one of three finalists again this year with the winner being announced on Tuesday. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    John Romano: His profile is as low as Tampa Bay’s payroll, but AL Manager of the Year candidate Kevin Cash consistently gets the most out of the Rays.
  9. ALLIE GOULDING   |   Times
Tampa Bay Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro (33) talks to umpire Bruce Dreckman at the bottom of the fourth inning against Texas Rangers on Sunday, June 30, 2019 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. 
 ALLIE GOULDING  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The other finalists, per a report, are Astros bench coach Joe Espada and former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.
  10. Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash (16) pumps his fist while walking onto the field just prior to taking on the Houston Astros for Game 3 of the American League Division Series in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD  |  Times
    Charlie Morton is in the top 3 for the Cy Young Award and Brandon Lowe for Rookie of the Year honors as well.