Tuesday, 4 a.m.
He is 30.
He was coveted by other teams.
His salary was about to become cumbersome.
So, yeah, it was time for Logan Forsythe to go, all right. It's a shame. He was a tough little out, and he could catch the ball, and he played hard. You didn't find him on the list of things that embarrassed the Tampa Bay Rays, even as embarrassing as last season grew to be. But on the Rays, a player should never get too comfortable.
This trade probably won't go down easily. When a team trades a guy who has done a lot in the big leagues (519 hits) for a guy who hasn't done much at all, it's easy to roll your eyes and blame
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But Forsythe was 30, entering his prime earnings years. He made a million dollars last year, but (says spotrac.com) he was to make $5,750,000 this year and $9 million next year. On the Rays, that's enough salary to put a guy in the danger zone. The danger is that someone in the danger zone was going to pay him, but it wasn't going to be the Rays.
Why not? Haven't you been paying attention? The Rays payroll simply can't keep up with the cost of the game for very long. When you add in two sub-par years in a row, some changes needed to be made.
Frankly, given the salary constrictions, given the health of the farm teams, this is precisely the kind of trade the Rays have to make. Oh, none of us know what Jose De Leon will grow up to be. He's 24, and he has barely stuck a toe into the waters that are the big leagues. There is little doubt that, in 2017, the Dodgers will get more production from Forsythe than the Rays will from De Leon.
But De Leon, supposedly, touches 96 mph on his fastball. He started four games for Los Angeles last September, going 2-0 (but with a high ERA and whip). But the game is all about pitching. Even if De Leon has a chance to be a legit starter — and he was called the No. 3 prospect of the Dodgers – then the Rays were better off.
De Leon finished last season's AAA season at 7.1 with a 2.61 ERA and a dazzling 0.93 Whip. Nice numbers, if they translate.
I know, I know. I liked Forsythe, too, and when he was hitting, you could argue that he is one of the Rays that fans would most like to see come to bat. He hit .264 last year, a bit of a dip from the .281 he hit in 2015. But Forsythe was solid, and he had some pop (20 home runs). I would have hated to pitch to him with the tying run in scoring position (not that the Rays had enough tying runs in scoring position).
Look, if this was just about performance, you could make a fine case that the Rays should have kept Forsythe. If they won last year and were a contender this year, if the World Series was in the balance, then you keep the proven commodity over the potential. But all things considered, I think the Rays had to make this trade.
It's hard for second basemen who weren't all-stars to feel protection on a last-place team. As much as we might have admired Forsythe, we understand the vulnerability of the position.
Around the Rays, however, a player can get to be overpaid in a hurry. That's how tight the budget is. De Leon lowers the payroll, and he presents the Rays with an intriguing pitching prospect. If De Leon can join the next wave of pitchers (Blake Snell, Brent Honeywell, etc.) then this might pay off.
If reliever Shawn Tolleson, formerly of the Rangers, can contribute, then the Rays pitching might have gotten better Monday.
Hey, the Rays can always move Brad Miller to second. Miller didn't quite have the range to play short, but he has enough pop in his bat to stay in the lineup. That would free first base.
Forsythe is one of those Rays who leaves while we are all smiling about his efforts. He was a fine ballplayer, a good representative. But, yeah, it was time for him to be traded.
Hopefully, we won't have to wait too long to see the return this time.