Rumors that the Los Angeles Dodgers are talking trade deadline deals with the Tampa Bay Rays have indicated that the target of the talks could be three-time All Star third baseman Evan Longoria, the 2008 American League Rookie of the Year and the longest standing member of the current Rays squad.
The Rays are among Major League Baseball’s worst teams so far in 2016, with a 37-57 record after Wednesday’s MLB action wrapped up, sitting a gaping 16-and-a-half games behind the American League East-leading Boston Red Sox.
Tampa Bay has the 30-year-old Longoria, the 2008 AL Rookie of the Year, signed through the 2022 season on a $99 million contract. The Dodgers, who already carry a payroll well over $250 million according to Spotrac, are one of the few teams in baseball with a revenue stream high enough to add Longoria’s salary to their bottom line.
— Rays Report (@rays_fanly) July 19, 2016
Dodgers General Manager Andrew Friedman, of course, served as the Tampa Bay GM from 2005 through the 2014 season before moving to the Dodgers. It was Friedman who drafted Evan Longoria as the third overall pick in the 2006 draft, out of St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, California.
Watch a highlight reel of Evan Longoria’s best moments from the 2015 season in the video below.
Adding to the speculation that the two teams may indeed be in discussions for a trade that would send Longoria to his hometown team — the Rays slugger grew up in Downey, California, a city in southern Los Angeles County — is the fact that the Dodgers current third baseman, 31-year-old Justin Turner, will be available to hit the free agent market after the 2016 season.
Turner is a year older than Longoria, though he has one year less experience in the Major Leagues. Currently with his third MLB team after being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the seventh round in 2006, Turner has posted a “slash line” of.266/.344/.467 with an OPS of.811 so far in 2016.
Longoria, enjoying his best season since 2012 and one of the best in his career, finds himself at.290/.338/.500 with an.888 OPS.
The difference is that Longoria has posted his impressive numbers with a hapless Rays team that is already effectively out of playoff contention. Turner’s team, the Dodgers, remain very much in the National League race at 53-43, five games behind the NL West leaders the San Francisco Giants.
Rays trade rumors: Dodgers talking with Rays, but not about Evan Longoria https://t.co/1JqoKhlqyp
— DRaysBay (@draysbay) July 19, 2016
The Dodgers currently lead the NL Wild Card race but stand only two games on top of the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals. But after crashing out of the NL 2015 playoffs in the divisional round, the Dodgers fired manager Don Mattingly and were expected to improve in 2016.
But even though it appears that Evan Longoria would be an upgrade on both offense and with the glove over Turner, and the Dodgers need to make some sort of move to improve their prospects and avoid another bust of a season for the team with the highest payroll in baseball — a payroll more than $80 million above than the sum shelled out by their arch-rivals in San Francisco — most baseball experts are skeptical that Evan Longoria is really the player at the center of the trade talks between Los Angeles and Tampa Bay.
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“A blockbuster deadline deal involving the Rays is considered unlikely at this time, as the chances of a move involving… veteran third baseman Evan Longoria were described by a source as ‘slim,'” wrote Chris Cotillo of SB Nation earlier this month.
MLB Columnist Jon Paul Morosi agreed.
“Based on information from sources over the past several days, I believe there’s a low probability of the Dodgers acquiring Longoria before the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline,” wrote Morosi.
But Morosi added that the possibility of Evan Longoria returning to Los Angeles to join the Dodgers in an offseason trade cannot be ruled out.
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