The Tampa Bay Rays made a significant trade on Wednesday, Dec 20, when they dealt franchise icon Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants. In return, the Rays received four players, minor leaguers Matt Krook and Stephen Woods, Tampa native Denard Span and Brooksville native and Hernando High Alum Christian Arroyo.
While it’s exciting news for Hernando County that Arroyo will be playing close to home, it was a deeply unpopular trade within the Rays fan base, as many people believed that Longoria should have retired as a Ray. Dick Vitale, the noted ESPN analyst and longtime Rays fan, even posted a video on twitter denouncing the deal.
However, this deal both offers the perpetually cash strapped Rays some needed financial flexibility as well as one of the more intriguing prospects in Arroyo.
Craig Goldstein from Baseball Prospectus spoke with cbssports.com about Arroyo, calling him a “surefire major leaguer” and a potentially productive regular.
As the Giant’s first round draft pick in 2013, the 22-year-old Arroyo was the number two ranked prospect in San Francisco’s farm system.
“He can put bat to ball, but there’s not a ton of power in the profile and he’s more of a second or third baseman than he is a shortstop. He’s not going to impress you with style or flash or a tool to drool over, but he’s got a bunch of ways to help out a team on a daily basis. He’s more useful than he is special, as a major leaguer,” Goldstein told cbssports.com about Arroyo.
Right now though the question becomes who replaces Longoria. Arroyo is one of the top candidates and his minor league stats mean he should get some serious consideration.
Arroyo hit for .396 in 25 games in Triple-A, while also getting Major League experience and a .192 average in 34 big league games before suffering a broken hand in July.
The other main candidate for third base is 26-year-old Matt Duffy, who missed all of last season due to injuries and setbacks after an offseason surgery on his left heel. If he is healthy, Duffy can be a serviceable player for the Rays, and one that allows Arroyo to play his more natural position of second base – a position he has a chance to start at for the Rays.
Overall, it is doubtful Arroyo will begin the season as anything higher than a bench player for Tampa Bay. His potential will see him get starts, but he will still have some growing to do before developing into the regular starter that many pro scouts believe to be his potential.