Could Evan Longoria Return To The Rays In 2023?

You know its officially the off-season, when everyday there is some new news coming out of some organization that seems to raise some eyebrows. 

It is no different for the Rays and the newest rumor-is that third basemen Evan Longoria said he would be interested in returning to the Rays if it is deemed a good fit for both parties. 

Longoria did not have his option year picked up by the San Francisco Giants and was quoted in an interview saying that “There’s only a couple places I’d like to play, and they’re places I own homes — Arizona and Tampa, and (the Bay Area),”

Longoria added, “The goal if I’m going to play again is to play for a contender. There’s no other reason to play at this point. Whatever the role is, I’m going to choose based on a place I know we’re going to be in a competitive situation.”

That takes Arizona out of the equation from a competitive standpoint, and right now it sounds as if it may come down to San Francisco or Tampa. 

The 34-year old Longoria had started his career in Tampa and his best years from a production standpoint. Longoria has been hampered buy injuries the last few years, but managed to .244 with 14 home runs and 42 runs batted in. 

The Rays also declined to pick up the contract of outfielder Kevin Keirmaier for next season making him a free agent. Keirmaier made $12.1 million in 2022. And was due $13 million in 2023. The Rays could offer Keirmaier a one or two year deal at a substantially lower salary. According to Spotrac, Keirmaier has a market value of $6.6 million per. 

Keirmaier posted a message on Twitter about his time with the Rays. “I am the luckiest man on the planet to have been a part of ⁦@RaysBaseball⁩ for 12 years,. Keirmaier wrote. ”They gave me an opportunity and I ran with it. Impossible to express how much I love everything here in tampa/st pete. I was damn proud to wear that jersey every single day.”

Keirmaier one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball when healthy, has been hit hard by injuries the last few years. 

Keirmaier ends his Rays career, with the second longest tenure at just over eight years with the Rays. Evan Longoria remains the longest tenured Ray with nine plus years. 

The Rays acquired outfielder Jose Siri at the trade deadline to take Keirmaier’s spot on the roster. Siri is an above average outfielder defensively, but struggled at the plate hitting  .241 with four home runs. He will return to the Rays next season. 

In a somewhat surprising move, the Rays waived pitcher Nick Anderson to create room on the 40 man roster. Anderson missed most of the last two seasons with elbow injuries and will become a free agent after refusing an assignment to Durham. 

Late Thursday Afternoon the Rays traded first basemen Ji-Man Choi to Pittsburgh in exchange for first basemen Jack Hartman who played last season at Class A Bradenton. 

Choi had been with the Rays for four plus season, but seemed to regress offensively the last two seasons. Choi hit .233  with 11 homers and 52 runs batted in, the majority of those homers and runs driven in coming in the first half. 

Choi would have been a free agent at the end of the 2023 season. 

Pitcher Corey Kluber, Outfielder David Peralta, and catcher Mike Zunino are free agents as well. 

Mike Zunino is the only player I can see the Rays bringing back on a short term contract. Zunino was the best Rays defensive catcher and even showed some power hitting 33 home runs in 2021.

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