Has Evan Longoria been replaced as the face of the Tampa Bay Rays?
The Tampa Bay Rays are set to open their 2016 campaign in a little over a month, which is great news for baseball junkies who have dearly missed America’s pastime and Rays baseball.
Much like every team, the Rays have to market around certain players that will help bring in revenue through fan experience, sales (tickets, clothing, memorabilia), and a supportive community.
The question is, who will those players be?
The first name that pops into your mind is Chris Archer, who is an exact model of who an organization would want to represent their team on and off the field.
Archer, one of the best starting pitchers in all of baseball, is coming off his first All-Star season. He pitched 200 innings for the first time in 2015, throwing 2012 innings with a 3.23 ERA and 252 strikeouts.
Off the field, Archer is a class-act. He is heavily involved with the community doing whatever he can do make the world a better place. Through charity involvement, hospital visits, and simply just hanging out with kids, Archer represents himself and the Rays organization wonderfully.
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He is the exact type of player an organization should want to build around, and the Rays are taking notice. Late last week, the Rays announced a 22-game partial season-ticket plan that includes discount pricing, full season-ticket holder status (including a new Rays Rewards program) and a Chris Archer emoji T-shirt. Other promotions featuring Chris Archer include an Archer K-Counter bobblehead giveaway on April 30 and an Archer Stormtrooper bobblehead on June 11 to all fans.
The 2nd player the Rays appear to be marketing around is center fielder Kevin Kiermaier, who is known for wooing the crowd with his stunning defense, hustle, and good looks. Yes, from what I hear, Kiermaier is frankly, a “ten”, and will draw many girls/women to Rays games. I’m not kidding.
Kiermaier leads all Rays in featured promotional items with three. The team will give away a Kiermaier platinum glove bobblehead on April 16, a Kiermaier glove to kids on April 17 and a Kiermaier Claus bobblehead to kids July 17.
Lastly, there’s Evan Longoria, who is the longest tenured Ray (2008) on the team. However, Longoria has gone from being an All-Star to an above average 3rd baseman. With that, he is still a franchise icon and should be here for the long haul (bar a trade). He still brings productivity and flare to the game and is more than likely the key piece to a productive offensive lineup, which may be the factor in a potential postseason berth for this team.
Longoria has 1 promotion dedicated to him — the Longo Solar Gnome on August 6.
In conclusion, the Rays appear to be heavily marketing around young stars Chris Archer and Kevin Kiermaier, while complementing lifetime(?) Ray Evan Longoria on the side. This make the most sense, given that the organization is transcending into a new era of Rays baseball and is responsible for providing the fans and community with the best product they can provide.