6:16PM: The trade has been officially announced. Toronto will indeed receive two players to be named later.
1:20PM: The Blue Jays have traded infielder Eric Sogard to the Tampa Bay Rays, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sogard was a late scratch from Sunday’s game, with Jon Morosi of MLB Network first reporting that a trade was “imminent.” The deal is pending a physical.
According to Scott Mitchell of TSN Sports, it appears that the Blue Jays will receive two players to be named later in the deal, though he notes that the deal has not yet been finalized and details have yet to be confirmed. The Rays will need to clear a spot for Sogard on the 40-man roster.
As one of just a few utility options on the trade market, the 33-year-old attracted the interest of a number of teams, having been linked to the Cubs and Giants, though in the end it was the Rays who made the most compelling proposal. With the Blue Jays playing out the finale of a series against the Rays, Sogard won’t have to travel far to join his new team. He’ll depart the Toronto dugout and travel to Boston with his new teammates.
With more than eight years of MLB experience under his belt, Sogard is not an unknown commodity. That said, no one—perhaps not even the Blue Jays—could have expected the veteran to transform himself into a coveted trade target. The club inked Sogard to a minor-league contract in December after his market didn’t develop in free agency. Now, though, president Mark Shapiro and company will turn that small investment into a prospect that better fits their timeline for contention.
Though the Rays certainly don’t have a glaring need on the infield, depth and versatility are imperative for contending clubs as the postseason approaches. A number of injuries have already thinned the Tampa infield, with Brandon Lowe, Daniel Robertson, Yandy Diaz, and Christian Arroyo all currently on the injured list. With Joey Wendle struggling to replicate last season’s success and still no timetable for Lowe’s return, per Marc Topkin, Sogard looks like a solid candidate to fill in at second base for the time being, with the potential to slide into a depth/utility role when Lowe gets healthy. While Sogard has spent the bulk of his career at second base, he has played sparingly at shortstop, third base, and in the outfield in 2019.
Sogard has enjoyed a career year at the dish, turning in career-best power numbers and displaying on-base skills that have made him a viable leadoff option for Toronto. In 73 games, He’s posted a .300/.363/.477 slash line to go with ten homers and six stolen bases. Prior to this year, Sogard had never hit more than three home runs in a single season. Defensively, his -5 DRS paint him as a below-average second baseman.
For the Blue Jays, it seems likely that Sogard’s departure will usher in a frenzied couple of days as they look to sell off Major-League pieces before the trade deadline. Marcus Stroman is perhaps the crown jewel of this trade season, and Ken Giles should receive attention from nearly every contending team. Daniel Hudson won’t draw as big a return as the aforementioned pair, but teams that can’t afford big-name relievers could pursue Hudson instead.