Tampa Bay Rays Rumors: Could Longoria Be Changing Zip Codes?

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 08: Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 08: Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /

The Winter Meetings begin next week and the Tampa Bay Rays could be among the biggest players as they look to reduce payroll, leading to trades of some veterans which could include Evan Longoria.

There will be trades, how many of them all depend on what type of return the Tampa Bay Rays can get. Speculation is that the Rays could go for a massive rebuild, meaning that many of their veterans, including Evan Longoria could be changing zip codes.

Reducing payroll is one of the Rays off-season main objectives and depending how you look at the current roster, specifically the players that are under contract and not those with a projected salary – well, it would make sense to trade those players. However, it would also be just as disheartening, if not the worst watching the Rays brass gut the roster of key veterans to reduce payroll.

Longoria is just one of possibly eight veterans that could be playing somewhere else in 2018 to help reduce payroll. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Wilson Ramos, Alex Colome, Corey Dickerson, Wilson Ramos, Brad Miller and Adeiny Hechavarria and Kevin Kiermaier “stand out” as the potential trade candidates.

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First, right now Longoria does not have ten-and-five rights meaning that he cannot block a trade – however, that changes in mid-April when he becomes vested.

Making a trade prior to Longoria becoming vested means that he can be traded to any team, come April he would have the right to veto any trade, unless the team trading for him is on his “approved” list of teams.

When the Rays signed Longoria to an extension back in 2012, I seriously doubt that they thought they would still be under such financial constraints. The extension was a 6-year, $100 million deal that would begin in 2017 through the 2023 season.  (2017: $13M, 2018: $13.5M, 2019: $14.5M, 2020: $15M, 2021: $18.5M, 2022: $19.5M, 2023: $13M club option – $5M buyout)

Longoria’s contract escalates, that began this past season when he earned $13 million, and it tops out at $19.5 million in 2022 and decreases to $13 million in 2023, which is a club option or a buyout of $5 million. Therefore, considering all this, the Rays still owe Longoria $94 million (including the option). A hefty amount for just one player that plays for a financially challenged team.

Although there has not been any major rumors involving Longoria this off-season, Topkin writes that the chatter has come from the media about connections to the Mets and Cardinals.

Jon Morosi of the MLB Network via Twitter  mentioned that the Cardinals are looking to add an impact bat and that Longoria could be the answer. However, they would consider Longoria only if the Cards are unable to trade for Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton – could Stanton become a Cardinal, maybe considering that Miami just narrowed down framework for a deal to the Cardinals and or Giants.

As a side note to the above paragraph, the Cardinals have been in on-going discussions since the GM Meetings about Alex Colome and Morosi adds that maybe the Cards could include Longoria in those discussions.

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However, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that Longoria could be a target of the Cardinals, with or without Stanton, though the Cards want to address their relief pitching needs first (Colome).

Is Longoria the “impact” player that the Cardinals really want, probably not so. Longoria’s “impact” is his defense as evident by winning a Gold Glove, (his third), durability, and his proven daily play along with his veteran leadership on and off the field. Maybe that is what they are looking for – his defense being their “impact player” in stead of an “impact bat.”

The Cardinals though do have numerous players that the Rays would ask in return for Longoria, among those could include outfielders: Tommy Pham, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty, catcher Carson Kelly, all of whom are right-hitters and a top prospect or two.

As for the New York Mets, Joe Giglio of NJ.com writes that the Mets should make a blockbuster offer with the Rays for Longoria. He writes this based on Marc Topkin’s article “As Rays start dealing, how far will they go?”

The Rays will not go far in my book as the Mets are certainly not going to give up anyone named Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto… plus, their farm system lacks the prospects.

I know and understand that baseball is a business and for businesses to succeed major changes usually happen at one time or another. More so, now is not the time to do make major changes, as it could put a very big damper on any chances of the Rays getting financing for a new ballpark.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays: Out Of Shohei Otani Stakes

With all the problems that the Tampa Bay Rays face, it would be extremely hard to envision the Rays without the face of their franchise, Evan Longoria over at third base and batting third in the lineup.