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The best thing about the Evan Longoria trade

Tampa Bay Rays President Matt Silverman is seen at a news conference and Rays General Manager Erik Neander  speaks outside Tropicana Field Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 in St. Petersburg. Leander and Silverman spoke about trading long time Ray Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and minor league left-handed pitcher Matt Krook and minor league right-handed pitcher Stephen Woods Jr. CHRIS URSO   |   Times
Tampa Bay Rays President Matt Silverman is seen at a news conference and Rays General Manager Erik Neander speaks outside Tropicana Field Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 in St. Petersburg. Leander and Silverman spoke about trading long time Ray Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for outfielder Denard Span, infielder Christian Arroyo and minor league left-handed pitcher Matt Krook and minor league right-handed pitcher Stephen Woods Jr. CHRIS URSO | Times
Published Dec. 21, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG — Evan Longoria is gone.

Long gone.

And that's a good thing.

Not the gone part. That still stinks as much now as it did when we all learned the Rays were trading away the face (and heart and soul) of the franchise. It's the "long'' part that's the good news.

The Rays shipped Longoria about as far away as they could.

Out of their division. Out of their league. And way, way out of their time zone.

Tampa to San Francisco: you can't get much farther away than that.

If you're hurting about Longoria being traded to the Giants, the bright side is you aren't going to constantly be reminded that he is with another team.

It's like a painful breakup. The last thing you want is to run into your ex out on a date.

(RELATED: Rick & Tom podcast on the Longoria trade.)

It will be really weird watching Longoria wearing another team's jersey, but thankfully for Rays fans, they probably won't see it that often.

Imagine if Longoria had ended up with the Yankees or Red Sox, and playing against the Rays 19 times a season. Even if he had gone to another American League team, such as the Rangers or Angels, Rays fans would have to see him a few times a year.

But he ended up in San Francisco. Just like Matt Moore. Remember him? Yeah, me either. That's the point.

Most of Longoria's games will be played after most baseball fans in Tampa Bay have gone to bed. Newspaper readers won't be blasted with his box scores first thing in the morning. He's in the National League, meaning he won't come here every year. In fact, who knows when or even if Longoria will return to the Trop again?

And while the Giants are probably better than last year's 98-loss season suggests, they aren't a marquee team. In fact, two teams in San Francisco's division made the playoffs, including the National League-champion Dodgers. So, it's not as if the Giants are likely to haunt Rays fans next October.

Sure it's bad that he's gone. But it's more like he has been erased, not moved.

While the Rays were out to get the best deal they could no matter where Longoria ended up, they probably did work to put Longoria in a good situation and that might have included Longoria's desire to go out west. The guess is the Rays certainly don't mind that Longoria will be out of sight and, because of that, out of mind for most Rays fans in 2018.

(RELATED: Five more things about the Evan Longoria trade.)

But let's not get it completely twisted. Rays fans aren't suddenly going to have amnesia and completely forget that someone other than Longoria is playing third and hitting third in the Tampa Bay order.

Not only that. Rays fans are angry not only that Longoria is gone, but why he is gone.

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No matter how the Rays paint it, this still feels like a white flag. It feels like a tank job. It feels like a salary dump even though it's probably a smart business decision.

Longoria is 32. He's coming off a Gold Glove season. He's far from being a bum.

But he's not an All-Star anymore. He's not an elite third baseman. His best days are behind him and his trade value was going down by the day.

If the Rays were ever going to trade him, sooner made more sense than later, especially because Longoria really has no place (or desire to be) in a rebuilding project.

Might as well trade him.

<a href="http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays/Jones-The-worst-thing-about-the-Evan-Longoria-trade_163782286>(RELATED: The worst thing about the Longoria trade.)

But Rays fans don't want to hear that right now. They are questioning the commitment of ownership. They are worried about the future of baseball in Tampa Bay. They see the Longoria trade as the first step in what could turn out to be years of lousy baseball.

And they are reminded once again that this is how the Rays must operate with their financial restrictions. That's frustrating when all fans want is a winner and some really good players to root for.

One of those players is now gone.

Long gone.

Contact Tom Jones at tjones@tampabay.com. Follow @tomwjones.

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