Longoria Trade Confirms It Sucks to be Fan of Florida MLB Teams

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, December 20, 2017 7:01 PM UTC

Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 7:01 PM UTC

Are you a Sunshine State resident who roots for the Miami Marlins or Tampa Bay Rays? Prepare for a very long 2018 season -- and very low betting win totals.

By now you know all about the salary dump that former Yankees legend Derek Jeter has undertaken with the Miami Marlins. Jeter, who runs the baseball operations and is a minority owner, has traded away three of the team’s best players in All-Stars Giancarlo Stanton (the 2016 MLB home run leader), Marcell Ozuna and Dee Gordon (the 2016 MLB steals leader).

Jeter didn’t get anything that will help the Marlins compete in 2018 in return and likely isn’t done shedding salary. FanGraphs projects the Marlins to have a win total of 72 this season, but look for their total to be lower when SBR’s top-rated sportsbooks release 2018 totals likely sometime in January. The Marlins are +8000 at BetOnline to win the World Series. Not happening.

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Marlins are stripping it to the foundation, Rays trade Longoria.... For Floridians, best baseball in 2018 will be spring training.

— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) December 20, 2017

Meanwhile, upstate in the Tampa Bay area it appears a similar sell off is underway. On Dec. 20, the Rays traded arguably their best position player and the face of the franchise, former All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria, to the San Francisco Giants for infielder Christian Arroyo, minor league pitchers Matt Krook and Stephen Woods, and outfielder Denard Span, who was a salary throw-in (Span will earn $9 million in 2018).

Longoria hit .261 with 20 homers and 86 RBIs in 2016. He has played at least 156 games in each of the past five seasons and is a three-time All-Star who twice finished as high as sixth in the MVP voting. His offense was down some last year, but he remains a terrific defender and had a WAR of 3.5. Good move for the Giants as their third basemen were last in the majors in average (.216), home runs (nine), RBIs (51) and OPS (.568) in 2017.

The Rays, who were 80-82 last year, surely aren’t done. They are the definition of a small-market team and play in a dump of a stadium and thus draw flies. Dumping Longoria’s $16.5 million salary due the next six years will help the bottom line. The Rays simply weren’t going to compete this season with the Red Sox and Yankees in the AL East. Thus, expect Tampa Bay to look into trading, at a minimum, ace pitcher Chris Archer and closer Jesus Colome. Archer would bring back a huge haul of prospects and Colome would draw a solid return – there’s no reason for a bad team to keep a quality closer.

FanGraphs had listed the Rays with a win total of 81 before this trade, but that should drop by a couple because the two Tampa Bay third basemen for 2018 as of now, Arroyo and Ryan Schimpf, have a projected combined WAR of 0.8. The Rays were +4000 to win the World Series on the futures odds, but the fire sale is on.

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