As they transition from a 2017 season that fell just under .500 to the offseason, Tampa Bay will have to make a handful of tough choices, one such being the potential trade of one of their highest-paid players, Evan Longoria. According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Rays are open to dealing their franchise staple.
Tampa Bay’s beloved third baseman is coming off of a Gold Glove-winning season where he also slashed a healthy .261/.313/.424 with 20 homers. His defensive value remains his key selling point, especially for a team desperate to fill their hot corner. It makes sense that the Rays would want to cash out his salary while raking in a decent crop of prospects to build on.
As of now, the 32-year old is without full no-trade rights. Longoria is set to earn $13.5 million next year. Barring the Rays picking up his club option in 2023, he’ll make up to $94 million by the time his contract is up that year.
Considering the other Rays rumors out there, it looks like the franchise will mark the 2017 offseason as the beginning of their rebuild. The Cardinals have expressed interest in closer Alex Colome, who will make $5.5 million next season, the first of three arbitration-eligible years. Tampa isn’t just on the seller’s market though. They’ve looked into acquiring former Toronto slugger/current free agent Jose Bautista, but if they’re aiming for an affordable bat, they might as well just hold onto Longoria. Aside from Longoria, Wilson Ramos and Corey Dickerson sit atop the list of potential and plausible candidates Tampa could deal this winter, assumedly for a new generation of Rays.