The Tampa Bay Rays sent 3B Evan Longoria and a pile of money to the San Francisco Giants for OF Denard Span, 2B/3B Christian Arroyo, LHP Matt Krook, and RHP Stephen Woods.
Evan Longoria is coming off the worst season of his career at the plate putting up a 96 wRC+ and only putting up 2.5 fWAR despite defense that won him the Gold Glove. The Rays are paying $14.5MM of the $88MM guaranteed and will pick up all $9.5MM deferred money that is payable in 2025-2029. They will pick up the $2MM trade assignment bonus due by the end of the year and an additional $3MM owed in 2022.
Denard Span is owed $9MM in 2018 and a $4MM buyout on a $12MM mutual option for $12MM. Span has been a productive player throughout his career, but the Tampa native only earned 2.6 fWAR in almost 1200 plate appearances over the past two years with the Giants. Span’s contract has some value as he’s projected to be a 1-1.5 win player over a full season, but not enough value to justify his paycheck. If the Rays do decide to dump his contract it’s expected they will have to eat some portion of the $13MM owed Span in order to get a very minimal return.
The Rays only save $1MM in 2018. They gain payroll flexibility in 2019 and the future saving $60.5MM in the 2019-2023 seasons.
2B/3B Christian Arroyo
The headline of the prospect portion of the deal is 2B/3B Christian Arroyo. In the out of date MLB.com rankings he was the top prospect in the Giants system (with the caveat that by most accounts the Giants have one of the weaker systems in the league) and #57 overall.
In the recently released Baseball America 2018 Giants Top 10 he was ranked fourth, down from second the year before. He peaked at #62 on the 2016 Baseball America Top 100. He was given a 50 Future Value with medium risk in the 2017 Prospect Handbook.
Scouts have long been confident Arroyo will hit for average. He has a straightforward swing and has demonstrated time and time again he has the hand-eye and bat-to-ball skills of a pure hitter. At this point, the general consensus among evaluators is that 10-15 home runs is the most that can be expected from Arroyo—he's yet to reach double digits in home runs in any season.
Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs.com gave him a 55 Future Value and ranked him #69 overall entering the 2017 season. His value came from his potential 70 grade hit tool despite only having 40 future power.
A lot can change in a year so it’s best to take old reports with a grain of salt. We should be getting updated information over the next few months.
Arroyo earned his first major league callup in late April due to injuries to the Giants. After only a couple of weeks in AAA and 70 plate appearances the 21 year old likely wasn’t ready to face major league pitching. He received 42 days of service time and hit .192/.244/.304 and 44 wRC+ in 135 plate appearances. He was sent back to AAA, but his season ended after breaking his hand after an additional 32 plate appearances.
Arroyo is a polarizing prospect. Those who believe the hit tool is enough to carry him to an everyday 2B/3B job. On the other side there are those who don’t feel he’ll hit enough to be more than a bench player who can fake shortstop.
LHP Matt Krook
Matt Krook is a 6’4” 225 pound left hander who was drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 draft out of the University of Oregon. He had Tommy John Surgery during his stay in college.
He walked only one while striking out 17 in his final 10.2 innings of work and posted a 1.02 ERA and .121 opponent average as a reliever. Krook's fastball movement is exceptional at its best and it draws Zach Britton comparisons, giving him a chance to move quickly if the Rays keep him in the bullpen.
The move to the bullpen might have done the trick, but he’s 23 and hasn’t pitched higher than A+. Krook was scheduled to be the #19 prospect in the Giants Top 30 for 2018.
Last year Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs.com gave him plus grades on his fastball and curve. He also has an above average slider and fringe average changeup. The 30 grande command kept him at a 40 FV, but was ranked 10th in Giants system.
When batters have made contact it’s been on the ground. He has posted 64.0%+ groundball rates so far through the minors.
RHP Stephen Woods
Stephen Woods is a 6’2” 200 pound right hander drafted in the eighth round of the 2016 draft out of SUNY-Albany. The Rays had drafted him in the sixth round of the 2013 draft, but were unable to come to terms.
His 90-96 mph fastball and 11-to-5 sharp curveball give him a pair of big league-caliber pitches although, he'll have to throw many more strikes if he wants to remain a starter. Long-term, he's most likely a solid relief arm as he gets ready to head to high Class A in 2018.
Another pitcher with control problems, he would have ranked 25th in the Giants Top 30.
How does this work out for the Rays?
The two pitcher throw-ins are high variance lottery tickets. The odds that they throw any effective pitches in the majors isn’t high. They are worth keeping an eye on however. They have stuff and if either gains some reasonable command he could be a future bullpen arm.
The trade really comes down to Christian Arroyo.
He hits for enough batting average that makes his overall line around league average with above average defense at second base. That gives you a solid three win second baseman with six years of team control remaining. In order for the OBP and SLG to be high enough you’ll likely need to see the batting average close to .300.
Arroyo doesn’t have a high ceiling, but his floor gives him a path to being a very useful player.
How does this trade fail?
A lot can go wrong.
Both pitching prospects can flame out. This part is very likely.
Arroyo may not hit for enough average or gain a enough power to justify a starting infield slot. Arroyo has a high floor, but that floor is as a utility infielder that gets a couple hundred plate appearances a year.
The Rays aren’t likely to get nothing out of this trade, but when you trade Longoria you want to see more return then a bench bat.
How do I see this working out?
I don’t have either pitcher in my personal top 50. You never really know with relief prospects, but you hope one works out to be a middle reliever and that’s a pretty solid outcome.
I ranked Arroyo eighth on my personal list and put a 50 Future Value on him. I think a reasonable outcome is a league average player, accounting for a couple runs above average on defense with a couple runs below average with the bat. His low walk rate and limited power constrain his likely output. My expected line is in the .270/.320/.390 ballpark.
Arroyo’s lack of walks or power limit his reasonable upside with the bat. There is some downside that he doesn’t achieve that modest line and gets relegated to a utility infielder.
In conclusion, given Longoria’s value, plus the money that the Rays have thrown into the deal, it would have been nice to receive a higher ceiling prospect in the deal.