Ask Gary: Will the Rays hold onto Longoria?

by Gary Shelton on September 30, 2017 · 4 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Will Longoria still be a fixture next season?/CARMEN MANDATO

Will Longoria still be a fixture next season?/CARMEN MANDATO

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Saturday, 4 a.m.

The Rays are approaching an off- season that is likely to bring even more turnover than normal to the roster. Alex Cobb, Tommy Hunter, Steve Cishek, Lucas Duda, Logan Morrison, and Tommy Hunter are all free agents who will be getting big contracts elsewhere. Those guys will be gone. The big question is

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who else may be going in the Rays annual shuffling of big contracts? Souza, Hechavarria and Colome are in line for big raises. Odorizzi, Archer, KK and Ramos all have big contracts by Rays standards already. And of course the biggest contract of them all is Evan Longoria’s who, in addition, has a no-trade clause that kicks in next April for being with the club 10 years. Even after losing the free agents we shouldn’t expect the penny-pinching Rays to pay everyone and also spend more money to add needed impact players to make the team competitive.

Do you think this will be the year the Rays decide they can no longer afford the face of the franchise and trade Evan Longoria? I’m not advocating for trading Longoria but we know that even though there is no salary cap in baseball, Rays management puts severe payroll limitations on themselves. Losing his salary would theoretically free up payroll that would allow the team to keep their other core players and add to the roster. Longo is getting to that age when production drops off and he will need more rest. With the no-trade clause coming the Rays may feel this is the best strategic time to dump his salary in favor of younger, cheaper talent. Would the Rays be willing to roll the dice that Matt Duffy can be the guy at third or is he a lost cause? So many questions. What does your crystal ball say?

Larry Beller

Lots for me to process there, Larry. History tells us that the Rays pinch pennies, and history tells us they don't overpay many people. I agree with your premise; this team could be in for a major face-lift.

To be honest, I thought last year was the year they would let teams kick the tires on Longoria. He was coming off an excellent year, and a lot of teams would love to have his presence in the clubhouse. But the Rays didn't have meaningful dialogue about him. Obviously, they don't want to trade him.

Now, let's discuss this: What do you get for Longoria at 31? During his all-star years, you could have fetched a lot. I'm not sure you do anymore. You certainly aren't going to get anyone any better.

My own thoughts is that you don't want to trade the captain while yoiu're trying to secure financing for a stadium. I think it would just be too unpopular. Again, I wouldn't trade him just to get rid of his contract, because it's bad business, and everyone would see through such a trade. So you'd have to get something in return for him.

In a way, I think that the other departures might help hang onto Longo. If you're going to lose Morrison (the Rays only had him this year because he was a bargain) and Duda, well, you have to keep someone.

I don't think the Rays can afford to let Duffy be part of any answer to any position. The first ability, remember, is durability.

Likewise, rest isn't a problem with Longo. He plays almost every day. Still, I know what you're saying. We live in a society where almost no one spends their careers with one team, particularly a cheap team when he's not a cheap player. But if I had to guess, I'd say it's 60-40 that Longo is still here.

Does Evan Longoria play his complete MLB career with the Rays?

Scott Myers

Unless they play in a big market, like Derek Jeter, almost no one does anyway. Longo likes to play baseball, and I can envision the day when someone wants to pay him more salary than the Rays.

But, like Larry asked above you, what are the odds that happens now?

For most of Longoria's career, he's been the best player on the Rays. I'm not sure that's true anymore. Logan Morrison had a lot more home runs this year. Corey Dickerson had more hits. Adeiny Hechavarria and Kevin Kiermaier were better in the field. But Longoria remains a pro, and he can still drive home runs.

Ah, but is Longo as valuable to the Rays as he used to be? Probably not. I could see him being moved to, say, the Dodgers. Maybe the Angels, which is near his home. But as I mentioned earlier, Longoria is a player that the fans trust, and in the middle of trying to get a new stadium built, losing him wouldn't be popular.

Remember, you are unlikelyto get a great player for Longoria. His trade, probably, would be mainly to move his contract. That's not a good way to build faith among the fans is it?

I said 60-40, he stays, in answering Larry's question. It's been sheer minutes later, and I haven't changed my mind.

You are the coach of a football team.   It is a tie game, time for one last series against a top 5 defense.   Who do you want on your team:                   

Winston or Mariota? Doug Martin or Dalvin Cook? Mike Evans or Odell Beckham Jr.?
Interesting series of questions, Jim. I'm going to assume, for the sake of discussion, that things like field position, the offensive lines and the fullback (for blocking) are all the same. Right?
At quarterback, I'm going to take Winston, but it's closer than a lot of people in Tampa think. Still, Winston has won more games (16-13) and has more touchdown passes (52-48). He also has six game-winning drives compared to four for Mariota. Granted, Mariota is a nice player, and you could debate whether the Titans have done better at building around him. But one guy, one drive? Of the two, I'll take Winston.
At running back, it really isn't a fair comparison. Cook has played three NFL games in his lifetime. Martin, meanwhile, is an enigma. I've written about it a lot. He has two seasons with more than 1,400 yards, and three with less than 500. There are certainly a lot of backs (Zeke Elliott, Todd Gurley) that I'd take over either of them. Seeing as how Martin is still suspended, I will take Cook. For now.
At receiver, I have to start this by saying how much I like Evans. But I did a statistical comparison, and Beckham has beaten him across the board. He's faster, and he makes circus catches. Yeah, it's true. Beckham has played on better teams. Still, I'll go with Beckham.

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