Posted on February 20, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
With spring training getting underway, the Tampa Bay Rays are working on a fire sale. After parting ways with Jake Odorizzi and Corey Dickerson last week and Evan Longoria earlier this offseason, the Rays have now traded away outfielder Steven Souza Jr. In a three-team trade, the Rays are sending Souza to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks have traded infielder Brandon Drury to the New York Yankees while receiving Yankees pitching prospect Taylor Widener. As part of the trade, the Rays have received Yankees second base prospect Nick Solak and Diamondbacks pitching prospect Anthony Banda.
Trading away Souza pushes the Rays in the direction of a full-scale rebuild. Souza enjoyed a breakout season in 2017, hitting .239 with 30 home runs. He, Dickerson, and Longoria were among Tampa’s most important offensive players last season. Without those three, as well as Logan Morrison, who remains unsigned, the Rays have a dearth of power in their lineup.
With both Dickerson and Souza leaving Tampa in the last week, the Rays are a little light in the outfield. Denard Span, Kevin Kiermaier, and Mallex Smith figure to be the team’s starting outfielders. But beyond those three, there’s little outfield depth. The Rays are also without an obvious choice in the DH spot.
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Of course, the Rays will add three prospects to their farm system. Solak is among the best second field prospects in baseball. He could be ready to push for a major league spot this time next year. Banda, meanwhile, adds immediate depth to Tampa’s already deep rotation. He made his big league debut last season and could have some upside because of his exceptional curveball.
Souza, meanwhile, becomes the second outfielder the Diamondbacks have added since losing out on J.D. Martinez, who has signed with the Red Sox. Arizona has also signed Jarrod Dyson to their outfield. Souza should team up with A.J. Pollock and David Peralta to form Arizona’s primary outfield, with Dyson as the fourth outfielder. That could leave Yasmany Tomas struggling to find at-bats. Meanwhile, Chris Owings and Daniel Descalso provide Arizona with in-house options at second base.
Finally, the Yankees have added Drury to an infield that previously had a couple spots up for grabs at the start of spring training. Drury is capable of playing both second base and third base, and it remains to be seen whether the Yankees prefer him at one spot over the other. Miguel Andujar has a chance to earn the third base job during spring training, which could push Drury to second base. Of course, Drury could also be New York’s primary third baseman with Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes handling second base.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Yankees handle Drury long term. He’s under team control through 2021. However, the Yankees will eventually have to make room for both Andujar and Gleyber Torres. They also have Didi Gregorious entrenched at shortstop and have already been linked to Manny Machado, who will be a free agent next winter.
Ultimately, the Diamondbacks got the best out of this trade. Souza should upgrade their lineup while they have the infield depth to lose Drury. For the Yankees, adding Drury is a nice move but not one that was unnecessary considering the power they already have in their lineup. Finally, while the Rays added to an already strong farm system, but they continue to hurt their chances of competing in 2018.