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MLB hot stove: Rays’ star Evan Longoria should join Yankees, says Pete Rose

Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria always enjoys a get-together with the Yankees, and that’s no exaggeration.

The proof happens to be in the numbers, as the 31-year-old veteran has hit .277/.349/.505 with 32 home runs, 29 XBH and 98 RBI in 149 career games against New York.

For nine seasons, Longoria has raked. Along with his prolific bat, his glove work at the hot corner has also been dexterous. But his prime years are now in the rear view mirror, and considering Tampa’s tight financial situation and incapacity to consistently compete for an AL East title, perhaps Longoria’s only chance left at a championship is by wearing a different uniform. 

In a recent story written by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the topic of conversation revolved around Longoria’s future in St. Petersburg, and who better to speak to on this matter than a man who isn’t afraid to take a gamble. 

“He’s the type of guy you’d rather see — maybe I shouldn’t say this — on a really, really good team,” Rose said. “Guys like Evan should be in the playoffs, in the World Series. You’ve got the best players in the game, you want them to be in front of the national media, putting their talents on display. …

“I don’t want to say Tampa’s not a great city because I got my start here, but it’s a small city compared to the press. So a lot of people don’t know about Longoria that should know about him. They don’t want to hear that here, that they should lose him. But I’d rather if he was on the Yankees or on the Cubs or someone like that. … A big market.”

It’s a valid opinion from Rose, and also a common one around baseball. If Longoria was traded to a playoff contender this year, it would be a circus for the media down in Florida. While the Rays once owned a crop of young talent–such as Carl Crawford and David Price–Longoria is the franchise’s hero. He’s the Rays’ all-time leader in home runs (241), RBI (806), games played (1,279) and WAR (46.4), and he’s about to begin a six-year, $100 million contract extension he signed during Tampa’s playoff run which ended four years ago. 

Whether the Yankees want an upgrade at third base now or in a few more winters, Chase Headley’s name has been no stranger to trade rumors. In his three seasons with New York, Headley–who’s one year older than Longoria–has accumulated only 31 homers with a .257 combined average. $26 million is owed to him over the next two years, a contract the Yankees wouldn’t mind escaping. 

If the Rays are interested in trading within the division, New York has an abundance of infield prospects to offer. 21-year-old shortstop Jorge Mateo has been mentioned as a movable piece, as has utility man Rob Refsnyderwho hopes to resemble Cubs’ veteran Bob Zobrist–a player Tampa once molded. 22-year-old Miguel Andujar would be the Yankees’ next best option at the corner bag, but he hasn’t played 75 games at the Double-A level. 

If you want to connect with Tom Hanslin, email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @tomhanslin.

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