(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Rays clubhouse has a different look and feel than it did yesterday, and they'll begin the post-David Price era Friday night at Tropicana Field in the opener of a three-game set with the visiting Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Hours before Thursday's non-waiver trade deadline, Tampa Bay parted ways with staff ace and 2012 AL Cy Young winner Price, who is set to command top free agent dollars after the 2015 season. The trade returned a three-player haul to the Rays: left-handed starter Drew Smyly, shortstop prospect Willy Adames, and middle infield prospect Nick Franklin.
"We felt strongly that this move was something that made ultimate sense for us," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "And comparing it to the other possibilities, it was by far the most prudent thing that we could do for the best interest of the franchise.
"Obviously all three guys were really important to us in this transaction."
Tampa Bay was idle on Thursday, a day after falling to Milwaukee in a 5-0 final. Price took the loss in that game, allowing four runs (three earned) in seven innings as trade rumors swirled. He was out-dueled by Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo, who pitched seven shutout frames and yielded only four hits.
Prior to Wednesday's loss, the Rays had won 11 of 12 and currently sit 7 1/2 games off the pace in the AL East and within six of the league's second wild card spot, prompting widespread debate about both the short-term and long-term impact of dealing a pitcher of Price's caliber.
Meanwhile, the Angels are coming off Thursday's 1-0 extra-innings win in Baltimore to avoid suffering a three-game sweep and stay within two games of AL West leader Oakland. The Angels out-hit Baltimore, 12-5 for the game, although it was a scoreless game until Albert Pujols' RBI single in the 13th. Halos starter Tyler Skaggs had a no-hitter going through 4 2/3 innings but was forced to exit due to forearm tightness.
Taking the hill for Los Angeles on Friday is Matt Shoemaker, who is coming off his best start of the season against Detroit on Saturday. The right-hander pitched seven shutout innings against the Tigers' potent offense, allowing only three hits while striking out five and walking nobody.
"It was one of those games where he wasn't going to beat himself, he was going to make good pitches and make those guys hit the ball," manager Mike Scioscia said.
In 11 starts this season, the 27-year-old rookie is 7-2 with a 3.90 ERA.
He'll be opposed by Jeremy Hellickson for Tampa Bay. The right-hander has failed to make it through five innings in both of his starts this season, but with Price no longer eating innings before him in the rotation, he'll need to pitch deeper in order to help out the bullpen. Hellickson took a no-decision against Boston his last time out, as he allowed no runs in 4 2/3 innings while striking out five and walking two.
He is 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA in five career appearances against the Angels.
The Angels took three of four from the Rays in Anaheim from May 15-18.