Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Analysis: Making a case for Rays to hang onto Longoria

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

OAKLAND, Calif.

As they should, the Rays are talking about a lot of things leading up to the Aug. 1 deadline for nonwaiver trades, most pointedly the wisdom of dealing from their stockpile of starters, whether to part with Chris Archer, Matt Moore and/or Jake Odorizzi now or, inevitably, later.

But here is one thing they should not and — barring something truly staggering and unexpected — will not do, which is trade Evan Longoria.

Sure, there is merit, and some logic, to the idea that this is exactly the right time to trade Longoria.

Simply, his value might never be higher. He is playing perhaps as well as he ever has. The calculus of his age, 31 in October, and the rest of his contact, six years at $100 million, might soon start to skew in the wrong direction. Some intriguing big-market teams, rich in prospects and/or cash, such as the Dodgers and Mets are rumored to at least have interest.

And this is the organization that traded James Shields and traded David Price and traded Ben Zobrist. And that let Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton walk away.

But this is Longoria, which makes it all different, given his intrinsic value.

He is the true face of their franchise, and at a crucial time with stadium decisions looming. He is the actual leader in their clubhouse, when much of their roster is in flux. He is, as he has reminded us all again this season, their best player.

And, an important factor in this equation, he has no interest in going anywhere — not home to SoCal, not to the bright lights of New York, not anywhere.

"This place has been my home," he said. "It's the only place I've ever been or wanted to be. So I hope that day never comes."

Business is always going to be business, so this is not to say, flatly, that Longoria should get a free pass to get the George Brett, Derek Jeter, Cal Ripken, experience he fancies, of playing his whole career with one team.

Nor that if the Rays went into a total rebuild mode and were going to be noncontenders for years that they wouldn't be proper in offering him the "courtesy" of asking if he wanted them to explore a deal so he could go elsewhere and win — while conveniently reaping the benefit of shedding the salary, which maxes out at $19.5 million in 2022.

If the Rays were going to trade Longoria, they would be wise to do so sooner. Because come April 2018, he reaches 10-and-5 status — 10 years in the majors, five with the same team — which essentially provides him with a blanket no-trade clause as he would have to approve any deal.

But why would they?

Is any package of prospects and young major-leaguers, no matter how promising, no matter how highly ranked by Baseball America and other experts, going to be as sure of a thing — barring injury, of course — as Longoria?

Ask manager Kevin Cash, who has the additional perspective of competing against Longoria, if he could imagine his lineup without No. 3 playing third base?

"No, I can't," he said. "And I don't want to."

And that's just as much because of what Longoria does as how he does it.

"He plays every day," Cash said. "He comes to work every day. The presence that he has off the field is probably just as important as he is on the field. And then once he gets on the field he is our best player. He goes out there and he does a lot of things to help us win offensively and defensively."

To wit, Longoria's numbers going into play Friday: .290, 22 homers, 55 RBIs, 50 extra-base hits, an .885 OPS. At this pace, he'll finish with career-bests of 38 homers, 184 hits and 85 extra-base hits, while pushing 100 RBIs.

Longoria not only wants to stay, of course, but he wants to win again. Getting to the World Series in his rookie season was a treat, but he wants to get back and succeed. His preference for the next weeks is that the team stands relatively pat, confident it has the right group but this year just got the wrong results. If the bosses do deal some arms or other pieces, his hope is they get back big-leaguers who can help them win now or next year, not prospects who may not pan out.

Even at a time of year when all kinds of ideas are floated, players in the Rays clubhouse can't fathom how Longoria's name could come up.

"Why," starter Jake Odorizzi said, "would you give away your best player when you still have six or seven years of control left?"

"I don't think that's a realistic possibility — I think that's just people floating things out there just to have some click-bait," said Archer, arguably the next most prominent Ray. "I don't know what the Tampa Bay Rays would be without Evan Longoria, honestly."

When teams have called in the past about Longoria, the Rays have always said they were not interested.

And if it happens again this week, they should once again just say no.

Marc Topkin can be reached at mtopkin@tampabay.com. Follow @ TBTimes_Rays.

Analysis: Making a case for Rays to hang onto Longoria 07/22/16 [Last modified: Friday, July 22, 2016 11:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  2. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  3. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  4. This Tampa Bay Lightning wing rides the newest wave of fan interaction

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There are photos of Lightning fan Shaun Egger as a toddler at center ice at the then-Thunderome, aka Tropicana Field. He's played in the Lightning's high school hockey league for Palm Harbor University. But his closest personal encounter with players had been waving through a crowd after a training camp …

    Tampa Bay Lightning player J.T. Brown wears his anti UV glasses as he talks over the headset with a hockey fan while they play against each other on line in an XBOX NHL video game in Brown's game room at his home in south Tampa. The fan chose to be the Washington Capitals and Brown, of course, was the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brown interacts with fans through video game systems as he streams the games live on Twitch with plans for the proceeds to go to charity.
  5. ‘Biggest fight' behind her, Petra Kvitova returns ahead of schedule

    Tennis

    PARIS — Five months after a home invader's knife sliced into her left hand, Petra Kvitova will return to competitive tennis at the French Open, a last-minute decision to make her comeback earlier than expected.

    Petra Kvitova adjusts her hair during a news conference at Roland Garros Stadium, where she will make her tennis return at the French Open. Kvitova's left hand was badly injured by a knife-wielding intruder in December; she has recovered ahead of schedule. [Associated Press]