The trade of Evan Longoria created a glaring hole at third base, with the pundits unsure of who would fill the shoes, positionally, of the former face of the franchise.
Whoever does land at the hot corner will certainly have some very large shoes to fill, as he’ll be replacing a three-time Gold Glove winner..
As of now, the popular opinion seems to be that Matt Duffy will be taking over at third base, the position he primarily played with the San Francisco Giants, despite having being a natural shortstop (he was pushed off the position in San Francisco by the excellent Brandon Crawford).
Complicating Duffy’s claim to the position, though, is his injury history. When he was originally traded to the Rays, Duffy was already on the disabled list. It took him a few weeks to be activated, but then he would be shutdown once again in September thanks to a nagging heel injury—the same issue that had him on the DL when the Rays acquired him.
Duffy was expected to be ready to go for opening day in 2017, but his recovery took longer than that. He began a rehab assignment in the middle of the season, but was shutdown once again. He would ultimately miss the entire year.
Another option could be Ryan Schimpf, who has played nearly half of his games in the majors at third base (albeit in a brief major league career thus far).
Meanwhile, there is top prospect Willy Adames down in Durham, who has surged through the system and finished the year in Triple-A at the age of 21. It’s doubtful he’ll be on the opening day roster—the Rays don’t have a history of rushing their prospects—but if he excels in spring, and the right situation arises, Adames could also man third on March 29th. However, Adames hasn’t played third base since 2013, his first year as a professional.
There’s also the possibility that the prospect the Rays acquired in exchange for Longoria, Christian Arroyo, could find himself as the Rays starting third baseman in 2018. During his brief stint with the Giants in 2017, Arroyo played 22 of his 34 games at third base, despite primarily playing up the middle during his ascent to the majors.
The Rays still do have a player on their active roster who has played third base for them before, and that’s Daniel Robertson, who filled in as Longoria’s backup when he needed a day off his feet. Robertson struggled at the plate when given more opportunities in 2017, but he’ll only turn 24 this upcoming spring.
Pitchers and catchers are still over six weeks away from reporting, and there’s a lot that can happen between now and then, but, as it stands right now, the Rays third base situation will have to be resolved.
Who will play the most innings at third base for the Rays in 2018?
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