Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays Tales: Notes on the players traded at the deadline

Monday was a tumultuous trade deadline day in Rays land, and aftereffects are still being felt. The Rays traded three players off their big-league roster and got back one, albeit an injury-rehabbing one in SS Matt Duffy, and five minor-leaguers of various pedigree and prospect status. As disappointed as the now former Rays were to be dealt, they at least have the solace of by joining contenders — LHP Matt Moore with the Giants, OF Brandon Guyer the Indians, INF Steve Pearce the Orioles (where he played the previous three-plus seasons). The players who came to the Rays have to make adjustments of their own, starting with Duffy, who goes from playing for a second World Series ring to playing for 2017, and from playing third base to moving back to his original position of shortstop (bumping Brad Miller to first base) when he completes his rehab from an Achilles strain likely later this week. Here are some more notes, quotes and factoids about some of the traded players:

The deals

• LHP Matt Moore to Giants for SS Matt Duffy, SS Lucius Fox, RHP Michael Santos

• OF Brandon Guyer to Indians for OF Nathan Lukes, RHP Jhonleider Salinas

• INF Steve Pearce to Orioles for C Jonah Heim

On Matt Duffy

• Wears No. 5 thanks to former Giants LHP Jeremy Affeldt. "I was given 50 when I was called up (in 2014)," Duffy said. "And Jeremy Affeldt actually made the comment about how I need to change my number to a single digit because 50 was too big for my back. So I just dropped the 0 and said, 'Is this good for you, Jeremy?' And he said, 'Yeah, I like that better.' So that was the story behind it."

• Had Duffman decals — think Simpsons character, regular-season and special Arizona spring editions — on the bottom of the knobs of his bats, or at least he did until MLB last year ruled such personalization to be illegal.

• Last year became the first rookie to win the Willie Mac Award in the 35 years it has been given out to the most inspirational member of the Giants in a vote of players, coaches and trainers. "That's how well respected (Duffy) is by his teammates," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said at the time. "How he plays the game on every pitch, every play, how he runs the bases — and he's played what, 100 games in a row? He's got all their respect, and he should be proud of that."

On Lucius Fox

Fox, who will be tied to many Batman references due to the Morgan Freeman movie character of the same name, is somewhat of a prized prospect, though he will be sidelined for at least a month with a bone bruise in his left foot.

The Giants invested around $10 million last year to get Fox, who maneuvered around the draft system to sign July 2, 2015, on his 18th birthday, for a hefty $6 million bonus as an international free agent, with the Giants paying another $4 million or so in "tax" to MLB for going over their spending limit. In doing so, they outbid the rival Dodgers, who also were hot for Fox, a consensus top five member of the international signing class based on his athleticism and five-tool ability.

Fox was born and raised in the Bahamas but came to Florida to play high school ball at Delray Beach's American Heritage High and participate in competitive showcase events such as the Perfect Game National and East Coast Pro.

A fast, athletic, switch-hitting middle infielder, he was considered a second-round draft talent according to Baseball America, with a North Carolina State scholarship offer, but he moved back to Nassau during his senior year. That enabled him to successfully petition MLB to avoid the draft and made him able to sign as a free agent, with the $6 million bonus a record for a non-Cuban international amateur.

The Rays did not give the Giants any money in the deal to recoup their investment in Fox, who was playing his first pro season at Class A Augusta, hitting .207. They may, as the Tampa Bay Times reported Saturday, seek additional compensation from the Giants since his injury was not disclosed.

On Michael Santos

Tall, hard-throwing 21-year-old was ranked the Giants' No. 19 prospect going into the season. Has not pitched since June 3 at Class A Augusta, when he was struck in the head by a line drive, interrupting an impressive season: 4-2, 2.91 with 44 strikeouts and only five walks in 582/3 innings. Missed the first half of last season with a biceps strain. Signed as a 16-year-old free agent from the Dominican Republic.

On Jonah Heim

Fourth-round pick in 2013 draft from Amherst (N.Y.) Central High with a Michigan State offer has been known for strong defensive skills (best in Orioles system) and pitch framing but thus far has unproven bat. Was an invite to big-league camp this spring, made a solid impression on Buck Showalter and some comparisons to Matt Wieters in build and style. Moved from Class A Frederick to advanced Class A Charlotte and knocked in the winning run in his Stone Crabs debut Thursday.

On Nathan Lukes

Was a 2015 seventh-round pick from Sacramento State, where he started as a walk-on and left with a school record 244 hits. 2015 pro debut season ended after five games due to broken hand. Had just been promoted to advanced Class A Lynchburg when traded and joined Stone Crabs.

On Jhonleider Salinas

Signed by the Indians in March 2015 as a 19-year-old from Venezuela. Has a fastball clocked at 96 mph he needs to harness, striking out 77 but walking 54 in his first 70 pro innings in the low minors. He will go to the Gulf Coast League.

On Brandon Guyer

Added a right-handed option to Indians outfield mix, allowing them to move Jose Ramirez to third and dump Juan Uribe. Indians baseball ops president Chris Antonetti called Guyer "a really gritty player who plays the game the right way." Indians manager Terry Francona joked the deal had one condition: "I wanted to make sure (Rays manager Kevin Cash) never helped him with his hitting."

On Matt Moore

Replaced Jake Peavy in rotation and made solid Giants debut Thursday, walking a career-high six but settling down to allow the Phillies only two runs on three hits over six innings, getting a no-decision in the 3-2 win. Moore said his initial impressions of his new team were good: "I got the vibe that something good is right about to happen. Some of the conversations I've had with the everyday guys, they know it's going to happen. They believe it. I don't see that panic or that urgency that can come over you. They just know something good is about to go their way."

On Steve Pearce

Added a needed right-handed bat to Orioles bench, expected to get time in the outfield (he played right Wednesday) and at DH plus provide infield depth.

Short stops

• Whether the Rays erred in overestimating their ability or the players vastly underperformed, it says something that both catchers who made the opening day roster, Curt Casali and Hank Conger, have been demoted to Triple A. And Rene Rivera, who was let go at the end of spring training, is playing for the playoff-contending Mets, hitting .225-4-18. Also of note, in replacing Casali, the Rays passed over veteran J.P. Arencibia, who was at Durham, to bring back Bobby Wilson.

• However convinced Brad Miller may be that he is being done wrong in losing his shortstop job, it's worth noting that the Rays and Mariners, who evaluate players differently, came to the same conclusion.

Trade rumblings

ESPN's Jim Bowden gave Rays baseball operations president Matt Silverman a B grade for his deadline work, saying the Rays fulfilled their need to add offense and that Matt Duffy was "the best controllable bat available to them." … Wonder what former Rays/now Dodgers boss Andrew Friedman thinks of old buddy Silverman helping out the rival Giants by dealing Moore. … Even after adding five prospects in the deals, the Rays did not make mlb.com's ranking of top 10 farm systems. SS Lucius Fox was inserted as their seventh-best prospect and RHP Michael Santos (both acquired from Giants) 30th. … ESPN's Jayson Stark passed on an interesting observation from an NL executive, that the Giants got double benefits in getting Moore and keeping him away from the Dodgers. .

Rays rumblings It's not the Rays' style, but if Alex Rodriguez is released today it would be quite interesting if they signed him and brought him to Yankee Stadium this week seeking his 700th homer as a visitor. … Like other teams, the Rays will put most of their players on waivers this month to see who clears and can be traded, but Silverman said, "I don't expect a lot of activity." … SI.com's Jay Jaffe named RHP Chris Archer the Rays' most untouchable player in future trade talk. … In a USA Today ranking of the 30 stadiums based on "how fun they are to visit," the Trop finished 29th, ahead of only Oakland: "Tropicana Field is dreadful. It's a hideous structure on the outside and worse on the inside." … Oswaldo Arcia's touted younger brother, Orlando, was called up last week by the Brewers.

 
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