I wanted to let everyone who is emotional about today’s trade by the Rays of Evan Longoria get it out of their collective system before I let you in on a little secret:
The Rays were probably a year late on trading the face of the franchise.
If you know baseball, you probably aren’t shocked about that “revelation.”
Let’s go back to 2016: Longoria bucks a two-year downward trend and explodes for a career-best 36 home runs and nearly breaks the 100 RBI plateau for the first time since 2010. If you’re looking at the possibility of making a deal and getting the most back for the third baseman, that would have been the time.
But they didn’t. And here’s why.
Looking at the possibilities at third base without Longoria coming into 2017, you had a guy coming off Achilles surgery that you didn’t know would be ready (Matt Duffy, who turned out not to be healthy), and a guy that you weren’t sure could play third base at the big-league level because he hadn’t played a single game in the Majors (Daniel Robertson, who we found out could, and did an admirable job playing basically three different positions).
So Longo got another season in Tampa Bay, and had a disappointing year at the plate, but both his standards and ours.
This year, the Rays have a healthy Duffy, a Robertson who they know can handle the position defensively, and maybe two of the best young infielders who could also find themselves at the hot corner at some point (Christian Arroyo and Willy Adames).
They may not have gotten the haul for Longo this offseason that they would have last year, but this gives the Rays the chance to take the money they would have needed to pay a mid-30s third baseman who had been playing on artificial turf for over a decade and rebuild, and give the guy who has meant so much to the initial success of the franchise a chance to not have to deal with the pains of having to go through the rebuild.
So I hope that the deal works for both Longoria in the short-term and the Rays franchise (and fans) in the long-term.