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Legends On Deck

Longoria Deal Potential Sign of Rays Rebuild

Rumors have been swirling this offseason about the Tampa Bay Rays and the commodities they hold in this year’s trade market. The front office has never come out and said they were going to deal away veteran players and turn an eye towards the future, but it’s clear that is where the organization is heading. Unfortunately, Evan Longoria was the first domino to fall.

Longoria, the Rays longtime third baseman, was the headliner in a Wednesday trade between the Rays and the San Francisco Giants. Easily the most popular player in franchise history, Longoria has been in the organization since he was selected by the then Devil Rays in the first round of the 2006 draft. He led the club to its only World Series appearance, winning the 2008 Rookie of the Year award along the way, and has since been the face of the organization.

Many fans were distraught by the front office’s decision to part ways with Longoria and rightfully so. Baseball times have been tough in Tampa more often than not and while the team has one of the smallest markets and plays in a lackluster ballpark, those that do follow the Rays closely are extremely passionate. Regardless of how the team was performing, the die-hard Rays fans always had Longoria to turn to. This move has been hard on the club’s supporters and they are letting their disapproval be heard.

However, the fact of the matter is, the front office’s number one priority is doing what is best for the franchise. Yes, I am a huge Longoria fan and to me he IS (now was) baseball in Tampa/St. Pete, but this was a smart baseball move. Take emotions out of it, the Rays were able to bite the bullet and part ways with the individual that has had the greatest impact on the club in its history. They knew how unpopular the deal would be, but they also saw the writing on the wall. If anything, it should signify the fact that the Rays are committed to finding a way to win, regardless of how they get there.
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The club as it was constructed was never going to make the playoffs in 2018, especially in what is now an even more competitive American League. Sure, they only finished a handful of games out of a wildcard spot in 2017, but if anything the roster was going to take a step back next year while a bunch of other AL teams were busy improving.

In a lot of cases with small market teams you have to get worse before you can get any better. Longoria still has a lot of value on the trade market, the Giants giving up their number one prospect for him is proof enough, and honestly it is fair to assume that his value is only going to go down from here. He is still a very good baseball player, but he is no longer the all-star caliber guy that many like to view him as. He hasn’t dropped off completely, but the numbers are certainly trending down. In the long run, Longoria has more value in the current trade market than he would moving forward on the field in the Trop.

The clear consensus among Rays fans was that the club was going to try and win in 2018. Some folks that cover the team closely strongly believed otherwise as they hinted at Longoria and other big names being moved. Now it looks like all eyes will be on ace Chris Archer and closer Alex Colome as they are the most likely candidates to be dealt next.

This move is going to be a hard one for fans to swallow, but the timing is right. You got a good haul of players from the Giants and shed some salary in this deal. A trade for Archer or Colome is guaranteed to call for some more big prospects, the club won’t move them just to move them. On top of that, the Rays already have a very good farm system with a handful of guys that are knocking on the door of the big leagues.

The Rays may take a step back in the immediate future, but they are setting themselves up well to get some of their young guys great experience while giving themselves the freedom to spend some money in what looks to be a very promising 2019 free agent market.

Did I want Evan Longoria to be traded? Absolutely not. Do I think it was the right move? Yes. For me, it signals the start of a full on rebuild, which is the right direction for the Rays. While there may be some long summers in the Tampa area over the next couple of seasons, I truly believe the front office has a vision of where they want to be after that, and I’m buying in.

Jake Berry
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Jake Berry

Contributing Writer at Legends On Deck®
Jake resides in Carrollton, GA and loves everything baseball. He is a lifelong Atlanta Braves fan and enjoys traveling to watch their Minor League teams. He graduated from the University of West Georgia with a Bachelor's Degree in Sport Management. Jake is also a certified personal trainer and has a passion for fitness and weight lifting. You can find his personal site at berrysbaseball.com

You can also reach out to Jake at jberry@legendsondeck.com
Jake Berry
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