Longoria sent down
Rays 3B prospect Evan Longoria was reassigned to minor-league camp after Monday's game.
The decision has been one of the most anticipated of the spring, as the Rays weighed Longoria's long-term future against his present-day performance.
Longoria said he wasn't disappointed but "a little bit let down'' and the Rays didn't tell him when he might be back.
"It's a tough thing to swallow; just go back down and keep doing what I'm doing," he said. "They didn't give me any timetable; it's really up to me."
Infielder Reid Brignac also was reassigned to minor-league camp.
Longoria, 22, made a strong case for himself, with a .262 average through Monday's game with 3 homers, 10 RBIs and 10 walks. But the Rays said from the start the decision will be based on more than just his performance in the games, citing intangibles and subjective topics. Plus, they've pointed out that he has had only 104 at-bats above the Double-A level.
And though the Rays say they are treating Longoria's situation independently of others, there have been comparisons made to how well Milwaukee's Ryan Braun did after starting last season in the minors while Kansas City's Alex Gordon struggled while starting the season in the majors.
Plus there are implications on Longoria's eligibility for free agency and arbitration - if he stays in the minors for even a few weeks, his eligibility for free agency would be delayed a year, until after the 2014 season; if he stays in the minors for several months, he likely would not attain early elibility for arbitration, known as Super Two status, which could save the Rays millions, or even tens of millions, over the next several years.
"It was a tough decision; it's something that was a collaborative process and we spent a lot of time thinking about it,'' Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said. "It wasn't a unanimous decision. It's one of those things I think with the way he played this year and the way he carried himself his timetable has been expedited even in our minds.''
Friedman said the Rays felt they were doing what was best for Longoria and his long-term development and that they tend to "err" on being cautious in these type of decisions. He also said the financial ramifications were "virtually irrelevant" because he expected the Rays would do a long-term deal with Longoria.
(Times photo - James Borchuck. Click to enlarge.)