ST. PETERSBURG — Seeing Matt Moore go to the National League West-leading Giants, Brandon Guyer to the first-place Indians and Steve Pearce to the contending Orioles last week was no fun for Evan Longoria.
Not just because of the void the deals left in the Rays clubhouse but because of the painful reminder that more ex-mates and buddies will be enjoying the playoffs while the veteran third baseman is sitting home for a third straight October.
"I'm ready to win," Longoria said. "I hate sitting around watching all my friends go out and do that. I do believe we can be a contender here again. It takes a lot. It takes a lot. And we have to believe that from the top down."
What Longoria, 30, also would like to believe is that the Rays' recently improved pitching and overall play — 11-10 since the All-Star break after Saturday night's 7-3 win over the Twins — is a launching point for what they could do next season with the proper offseason plan.
"(Manager Kevin) Cash going into his third year and me going into my 25th year here (10th, actually), along with the guys that have been here for a while, we want to win. We're ready to win," Longoria said.
"Personally you get spoiled going to the playoffs so often (four times in six years) and just expecting that it is going to happen again. … I want to go back. And I want us to do everything possible to give ourselves the best chance to do that."
One key, Longoria said, is keeping the remaining core intact, which sounds like code for not trading Chris Archer or any other top starter.
Another, he said, is adding (or retaining) some key veterans to provide leadership and stability in addition to delivering key hits or getting big outs.
Longoria plans to talk with Cash about his thoughts going into the offseason. He knows Cash will have extensive discussions with baseball operations president Matt Silverman.
"In dealing with all the things they have to deal with, ultimately in the end put together a real legitimate contender of players that have played there and been there and that mix of young talent that we have here and at the minor-league level."
Maintaining and assembling that talent requires ownership spending enough money, which is not a given given the Rays' again majors-worst attendance.
After opening the season with a majors-low $58.6 million payroll (plus paying James Loney $8 million to play elsewhere), they are down after the trades and other moves to about $49 million and, subtracting players currently on the DL, are playing with less than $40 million on the field.
"I know we all understand that our philosophy is different than a $200 million-a-year team's philosophy," Longoria said. "That being said, it doesn't diminish the fact of how bad we want to win. Whatever philosophy we have to use, let's try and make that a winning philosophy."
Longoria has been steadfast about wanting to stay with the Rays his whole career. "There would be nothing better than to bring a championship here," he said. "My singular focus is that. It has nothing to do with anything that could happen or may happen."
Team officials have passed on all trade inquiries they've gotten on Longoria and have committed heavily to him, with six years and $100 million remaining on his latest contract.
But, you wonder, what happens if they don't make the moves over the next couple of years to get back into contention?
"I don't know," Longoria said. "I'm not prepared to answer that question yet. It's not a question that I ever want to answer, truly. I don't ever have the belief that it's not going to happen."
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.