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Mar-gone for Good

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe you are the glass half-full sort who can get excited about the prospecting coming back in return. Maybe the prospects coming back are no consolation for the players you are bidding farewell. But saying good-bye to players who probably still have more than a few good years left is, for better or worse, an essential part of being a Rays fan.

We want to give our departing players a good send-off so join us to celebrate the Rays career of Manuel Margot.

Acquired by the Rays before the 2020 season for reliever Emilio Pagan, Manuel Margot had been signed by the Red Sox as a teen. He debuted with the Padres in 2016 and played with them for four seasons before coming to Tampa Bay.

During his stint in St. Pete, Margot has been a solid, if never spectacular, part of the line up, largely playing right field but capable of playing center field as well. His slash line over the course of his Rays career was .255/.309/.385.

Margot’s first season with the Rays, that COVID-shortened 2020 season, had dramatic ups and downs. During the 2019-2020 off-season, Margot and his family were involved in an auto accident in which the car caught fire and bystanders pulled the family to safety. Because of COVID travel restrictions, when Margot came to the US to start the delayed 2020 spring training, he could not bring his family with him; Willy Adames welcomed him as a roommate and helped him feel at ease with the team.

That summer, Margot’s father back in the Dominican Republican caught COVID and, just as the season got under way, passed away. Margot had been extremely close to his dad; he flew home for the funeral and then had to isolate under COVID protocols before rejoining the team. No wonder he struggled in his 2020 regular season.

He was a star, however, of the postseason. He scored three runs and got on base nine times in the six World Series games, but he is perhaps best known for his success against Houston. Never known for his power, he hit three home runs and knocked in six runs against the Astros, including this three-run bomb:

But perhaps he’s best known for the runs he saved that game. With two Houston runners on base, you can see him fighting the sun and the wall to turn this fly ball into an out:

That’s too good for just a brief video; this article breaks it down second by second.

Margot confessed afterwards that he hadn’t anticipated the long drop:

Once I actually started to flip and realized it was a little bit further of a drop, I kind of got a little scared.

But that fear was not in evidence when he emerged, smiling and holding the ball for the umpire to see.

One of his best stretches came early in 2022, when he was a consistent hitter on a weak hitting team. He suffered a bad knee sprain, however, in June of that season. He missed two months and was considered fortunate for not needing season ending surgery.

Margot was never a face of the franchise, he was often mentioned as a clubhouse leader, especially, but not only, for younger Spanish-speaking players. As he told Marc Topkin:

“I’m pretty proud of having that role,” he said via Navarro. “With the experience that I’ve had and some of the more time I’ve had compared to some of the other Latin guys, that’s the position I’ve fallen into.”

The Rays created this tribute video for him:

You can enjoy this walk-off 58 mph single as we say good-bye. Thanks for everything, Manny!