Tampa Bay Rays: Revisiting the trade that sent Evan Longoria to San Francisco

As we await Tampa Bay Rays baseball we take a look back at the trade that sent one of the biggest stars in Rays’ history to the San Francisco Giants.

The Tampa Bay Rays have been involved in some really interesting trades over the years. Today we take a look at the deal that probably hurt the most at the time.

Evan Longoria burst on the scene in 2008, hitting 27 homers while driving in 85 runs in just 122 games his rookie season. He slashed .272/.343/.531 on his way to a Rookie of the Year Award and getting the nod at the All-Star game. That year, Longorio helped lead the Rays on a charge to the World Series. He would forever be a fan-favorite in Tampa Bay.

He would remain among the league’s best, winning consecutive Gold Gloves in his second and third seasons and finishing in the MVP conversation in five of his six first seasons. He is Mr. Game-162.

Between 2008-2013, Longoria slashed .275/.357/.512 and posted a 136 OPS+ over that time span. That is sustained high-level production. In November of 2012, Longoria agreed to a ten-year deal which added six guaranteed years to his contract and an extra $100 million.

Over the next four seasons, Longoria combined for a .320 on-base percentage. He was still a solid player, posting a 162-game average of 25 homers with 87 RBI. The Rays are ever the opportunists though. Perhaps they saw it as trading a guy who was aging and had a ton of name recognition just as he entered the most expensive years of his contract.

Longoria was set to make the following annual salaries beginning in 2018:

  • 2018: $13,666,666
  • 2019: $14,666,667
  • 2020: $15,166,666
  • 2021: $18,666,666
  • 2022: $19,666,667

So, the trade was made. The Rays sent Longoria to the Giants and in return they Matt Krooks, Stephen Woods, Christian Arroyo, and Denard Span.

Span logged just 43 games with the Rays before he was shipped off to the Mariners. Christian Arroyo was supposed to be the centerpiece of the deal for the Rays. Arroyo is a former first-round draft pick who spent three-consecutive seasons as a top-100 prospect. The Rays moved on from Christian Arroyo near the trade deadline last season when they sent him to the Indians.

Longoria’s first season with the Giants was the worst offensive season of his career. he hit 16 homers in 125 games but slashed .244/281/.417. San Francisco is not a very accomodating park to hit in but he showed signs of a resurgence last season with a .254/.325/.437 slash line. His xSLG (which accounts for ballpark factors) actually put him at .469 xSLG in 2019.

Between Yandy Diaz, Matt Duffy, Daniel Robertson, Joey Wendle, and Mike Brosseau, the Rays posted a team total of -1.0 rWAR from third base last season. In 2018, the Rays third basemen combined for a 1.5 rWAR.

That’s a grand total of 0.5 rWAR since the trade for the Rays.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Longoria was worth a 1.7 rWAR in 2018 and 2.5 wins above replacement last season. There’s no doubt, that even with the dip in his numbers, he’s still been the more productive player since the trade. The Rays picked up $2 million of his salary for the first four years following the trade, and are responsible for $5 million in the final year.

Bottom Line- Christian Arroyo didn’t work out. Longoria is still a productive player. His contract may be high for Tampa Bay’s standards, but it’s a very reasonable deal compared to other players with his name value. In the end, the winner of this trade will depend on what type of production the Rays can find at third base over the next few seasons and also on how Longoria performs for the remainder of his deal. One thing is for sure, it still doesn’t feel right to see him in a Giants uniform.