Nothing says Merry Christmas to your fan base by trading away your most popular player and most recognizable face. But that is exactly what the Rays did today with the Trade of 3B Evan Longoria.
The face of the franchise is gone. The Tampa Bay Rays have traded their most popular player and the most recognizable face of Rays baseball.
Evan Longoria has been traded to the San Francisco Giants for OF Dennard Span, INF Christian Arroyo, P Stephen Woods, and P Matt Krook. This is the first of what may be a series of trade for the Rays as the salary purge begins and the Rays begin to re-tool their roster.
This is all about shedding salary as the Rays stock pile young prospects and get ready to challenge for a post season berth in 2019.
Longoria has spent his entire 10 year career with the Rays and gave us fans many great moments. My favorite the walk off home run in game 162 of the 2008 season to put the Rays into the post season.
Longoria not only was the face of the franchise, but also did a lot of good work in the community. He hit .261 with 20 HR’s and drove in 86 runs this past season. His offensive production had taken a step back the last few years but his bat still had to be respected by opponents. Longoria won his third gold glove this past season and his defense will definitely be missed at third.
The trade rumors had been flying the last couple of weeks and Longoria was a name talked about that might be traded but you really didn’t think it would happen. I would have expected Alex Colome, Jake Ordorrizzi, or Chris Archer to be traded before Longoria. And I Still think Colome and at least one starter will be traded before next season.
Longoria will go down as one of the all time top five sports figures in Tampa Bay sports history. He was not only a great PR figure for the Rays as he did a ton of charity work in the area, but also was a good teammate and a good leader in the Clubhouse. The trade will create a bit of a leadership vacuum in the locker room.
Longoria also put fans in the stands. Many Rays fans were Longoria fans and he was the main reason they took the drive to Tropicana Field To watch baseball. That connection is know gone.
The Rays were last in attendance last year averaging 15,260 a game. With Longoria gone, that figure will most likely drop even further this season. How would you like to be a sales rep for the Rays and try to sell season ticket plans and corporate sponsorships with the face of the franchise gone?
The Rays are trying to get a new stadium deal in Hillsborough County and are counting on taxpayer and corporate support. Trading your most popular player is not a good way to rally support for the new stadium.
This trade ranks right up there with the trade of Marty St. Louis. The only difference is Longoria wanted to be here and would have played the rest of his career here. St. Louis wanted out but has since mended his relationship with the Lightning.
This is the first of many trades to come that will shape the future of the Rays. It’s a shame when you have to trade a sports icon in order to position yourself for future success.