Andrew Friedman was promoted to Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations of the Rays on November 3rd, 2005. Fun fact: I wrote MLBTR's first post the next day. Friedman struck his first deal about a month later, acquiring third baseman Sean Burroughs from the Padres for pitcher Dewon Brazelton. Both were former first-round draft picks. As part of the deal, the Rays used their Rule 5 pick on pitcher Steve Andrade and sent him to the Padres as well. Another fun fact: Dan Uggla was chosen by the Marlins in that same Rule 5 draft.
Friedman kindly answered a few questions for MLBTR about his first trade.
MLB Trade Rumors: Burroughs had a decent chance of being non-tendered had he remained with the Padres. Did you consider retaining Brazelton and waiting to see whether Burroughs hit the free agent market? Would the Rays have tendered Brazelton a contract?
Andrew Friedman: When you plan to acquire an arbitration-eligible player, you always have to look at the possibility that he might be non-tendered, and work through the implications if he is. It made sense, where we were as an organization at that time, to look for upside, and Burroughs was a player with significant upside – a young third baseman with defensive ability and a great pedigree who had shown a lot of promise with the bat in his minor league career. We had a player whom the Padres liked and who didn't fit into our plans, so it made sense to pursue a swap before the tender date.
MLBTR: You described this as a "classic change-of-scenery trade." Why do you think that change failed to produce results for either principal player?
Friedman: Like most "change-of-scenery" trades, this one involved players who had struggled to live up to their tools. That happens an awful lot – it's a hard game, and if success were as simple as switching uniforms, you'd see it a lot more often. We've had a few instances here where a change of scenery yielded tremendous results, but most of the time, it doesn't work despite everybody's best efforts. It's very difficult, no matter your physical ability, to have a long, successful major league career.
MLBTR: This was the one deal struck by the Rays at your first Winter Meetings in Dallas. How would you describe your Meetings experience as a rookie?
Friedman: The first time is always a learning experience. You're still meshing as a front office, and still getting to know many of the other GM's. In my case, I'd been with the organization for a couple of years before taking this job, and that made the transition more seamless. I had a good grasp of our own personnel, both in the front office and on the field. That was a big help but it was still an adjustment. We felt good about what we did there and the lessons we took from it, and we continue to adjust and refine our processes every year.
MLBTR: Shortly after the Brazelton trade, another former first-round pick, Josh Hamilton, cleared waivers. Were you surprised no one made a claim?
Friedman: It was not a surprise. We all know Josh's talent but it was more of a procedural move as he was still on the restricted list.
MLBTR: When you make a trade, do you want to see your former player have success with his new team? If your end of the deal doesn't pay off, do you prefer the other team's doesn't either?
Friedman: Once we make a trade, we're most invested in the success of the players we've acquired. But we don't root against those we’ve traded away as we've had so many great relationships with our players over the years.