The Rays have said so long to Evan Longoria.
Longoria, the greatest player in franchise history, was traded Wednesday to the San Francisco Giants.
Longoria, 32, has been the face of the Rays for nearly a decade, a 2006 first round pick who reached the majors in April 2008 and quickly became a franchise cornerstone player and fan favorite.
The Rays have been reluctant to deal Longoria because of his talent, leadership and the commitment he has shown to them, twice signing long-term, below-market deals.
But they changed their thinking this off-season with the opportunity to shed his $13.5 million salary for 2018, and the overall $86 million he is guaranteed, with a 2023 option pushing the total to $94 million, as part of an effort to trim payroll.
An additional factor is that in April, by having 10 years in the majors and at least five with the same team, Longoria will gain no-trade rights, which the Rays refuse to agree to include in contracts because it limits their flexibility.
Though Longoria said at the end of last season he expected to stay with the Rays and still hoped to finish his career with them there had been considerable chatter throughout the off-season, and by the Dec. 10 start of the winter meetings he seemed resigned to being dealt.
"I don't know what to think, really,'' he said, in a text response to questions from the Tampa Bay Times. "I think they have made it pretty clear that they want to cut salary, so I guess that leaves me somewhere in limbo.
''I think I've been pretty upfront about wanting to be in Tampa (Bay) for my whole career, but I realize that my window is getting smaller to win a championship. If they decide to rebuild completely and give everyone up, then I suppose my family and I will adjust.''
Longoria is coming off a season in which he won his third Gold Glove at third base but took a step back offensively, hitting .261 with 20 homers, 86 RBIs and a .737 OPS. It was his fifth straight season, and ninth in his first 10 in the majors, that he hit at least 20 homers.
He is a three-time All-Star, was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2008, won the Silver Slugger award in 2009 and has finished in the top 20 of the AL MVP voting six times.
The team record holder in many offensive categories, Longoria is probably most known for his dramatic 2011 Game 162 12th-inning walkoff homer that pushed the Rays into the playoffs in one of the wildest regular-season finishes in major-league history. In doing so, he joined Bobby Thomson of the 1951 Giants as the only players to put their teams into the postseason with walkoff homers in the final game of the regular season.
Rays trade franchise cornerstone Longoria to Giants
Tampa Bay Times | Dec 20