In a very shocking turn of events, it has been confirmed by the teams that the Tampa Bay Rays have parted ways with their franchise third baseman, Evan Longoria. The team on the receiving end will be the San Francisco Giants, who will take back outfielder Denard Span, right-hander Stephen Woods, left-hander Matt Krook and infielder Christian Arroyo.
Longoria, 32, has played the entirety of his major league career in Tampa, while manning the hot corner. Longoria was signed to a long-term deal early in his career with the intentions of being the face of the franchise, but it appear the Rays have decided that it was best for the franchise to deal him, while he still had trade value, and start restocking the team.
Despite a career-low OPS+ in 2017, the three time All-Star is still a solid bat and run producer, as he will be a huge upgrade for a San Francisco offense that ranked last in the National League in home runs last season. Longoria will slide in to the starting third base role and middle of the Giants’ lineup. This trade illustrates that the Giants believe they are only a few pieces away from contending, despite a 98-loss season just a year ago.
The Rays received a solid haul for their star third baseman, that’s centered around infielder Christian Arroyo. Arroyo, 22, was one of the Giants’ top prospects coming into 2017, and despite minimal exposure to upper-level minor league pitching, received the call to the majors. His career .300 minor league batting average did not carry over, as he struggled to stay above the Mendoza Line.
The Giants must believe, that Longoria will be a better fit than Arroyo on the left side of their infield, since they moved the once untouchable prospect. The Rays on the other hand will be receiving a young infielder with tons of upside that can be a crucial component of their perceived rebuild.
Denard Span is the other big league player heading to Tampa Bay. Span, 33, was once known as one of the top leadoff hitters in the game, but with many players that rely on their legs, with age his numbers have declined. They declined to the point that he posted a negative WAR in 2017.
Span’s inclusion in the deal will help offset some of the money in Longoria’s contract, and will provide the Rays with a veteran outfielder, who likely act as the team’s fourth outfielder.
The last two players heading to Tampa are a pair of minor league pitchers, lefty Matt Krook and righty Stephen Woods.
Krook, 23, was a first-round pick by the Marlins out of high school in 2013 and a fourth-round draft pick by the Giants in 2016. Krook reached High-A last season, but had atrocious numbers. He posted a 5.12 ERA and walked 66 batters in only 91.1 innings pitched. The Rays likely will be banking on Krook to find his control and stuff that made him a former first-round pick.
Woods, 22, was originally drafted by the Rays out of high school, but decided to attend the University of Albany. He was later drafted by the Giants in 2016. Woods reached Single-A Augusta last season and posted a 2.95 ERA as a starter. Like Krook, his walk-rate is alarming, but the Rays have scouted him in the past and must see some strong potential.
Longoria’s departure from Tampa Bay is bittersweet for Rays fans, who will be seeing their former face of the franchise wear a Giants uniform season. However, the Rays know they are a step below the Yankees and Red Sox and the AL East, and are smartly moving their assets while they still have value.
The Giants are trying to prove to the world that they believe last season was a fluke, and that they will be ready to contend in 2018.