McGee moves on with fond memories

Lefty traded to Colorado, signed with Rays out of high school in 2004

McGee moves on with fond memories

ST. PETERSBURG -- Jake McGee is leaving the Rays, but the hard-throwing left-hander plans to continue living in the Tampa Bay area even though he was traded to the Rockies on Thursday.

"We've made this our home, so we'll stay here year-round," McGee said. "It's good there are direct flights to Denver."

McGee allowed that he was a little surprised that he got traded this late in the offseason. Once he and the Rays had avoided arbitration by settling on a $4.8 million salary for 2016, he figured he would at least open the season with the team.

"I kind of expected [to get traded] a little more early in the offseason," McGee said. "Arbitration went well. A few days ago, I heard a little bit that a trade might happen, but I didn't know if it was just another rumor. Today everything begin to happen. I was getting calls and talking to my agent. I didn't hear it was official until 7 o'clock."

McGee, who signed with Tampa Bay out of Edward C. Reed High School in Sparks, Nev., in 2004, began in the organization as a starting pitcher before concentrating on relief work prior to reaching the Major Leagues.

In parts of six Major League seasons, McGee compiled a 21-11 record with a 2.77 ERA and 26 saves, striking out 319 and walking 72 in 259 2/3 innings.

McGee, 29, said having his roots in the Rays organization made the news "hard."

"I've been here for 12 years," he said. "So it's kind of tough. I got close with all the trainers and the staff, the players. Got to know [the media] really well. So that makes the news more difficult. But I'll be going to Denver. I'm used to pitching in the higher altitudes since I grew up in Reno. Shouldn't be too big of a change for me."

McGee, who spent 71 games on the disabled list in 2015, said the injuries are behind him.

"I feel great," he said. "I'm ready to go."

McGee wanted to thank Rays fans "for all their support throughout the years."

"Tampa's been awesome to me," he said. "I wish all the players and the coaching staff and the training staff the best. They've been amazing all the years and made me better. Keeping me healthy, teaching me everything and helping me be a Major Leaguer."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.