The Rays have traded outfielder/first baseman Jordan Luplow to the D-Backs for infield prospect Ronny Simon, the teams announced. Arizona designated right-hander Brett de Geus for assignment to open space on the 40-man roster. Tampa Bay’s 40-man roster now sits at 39.
Luplow is a five-year big league veteran, although he’s spent the bulk of his time in a platoon capacity. The right-handed hitter has never tallied more than 261 plate appearances in any given campaign, as he’s instead been leveraged heavily against lefty pitching. That’s a role in which he’s had great success, as Luplow has a massive .245/.360/.539 showing against southpaws. While that batting average isn’t eye-catching, Luplow’s combination of a huge 14.3% walk rate and 23 home runs in 378 plate appearances (essentially a little less than two-thirds of a full season’s workload) when holding the platoon advantage has made him an impact player in those situations.
Yet Luplow’s struggles against same-handed hurlers have kept him from being an everyday regular. He’s a career .205/.291/.369 hitter in 358 trips to the dish against righties. The 28-year-old actually had reverse splits in fairly limited playing time this past season, but it’s likely the D-Backs put more stock in his career-long track record of mashing against southpaws and will continue to use in a platoon capacity next season.
Luplow has between three and four years of major league service, so he remains controllable through 2024 via arbitration (barring changes to the service time structure in the next collective bargaining agreement). MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects him to receive a salary in the $1.5MM range next year. That’s certainly not an onerous sum, but it might be more than the cost-conscious Rays would have been willing to spend since they’re already fairly deep in outfield options.
The D-Backs’ outfield is far less settled, particularly if the club tries to trade David Peralta this winter. Young options like Pavin Smith, Stuart Fairchild, Jake McCarthy and Daulton Varsho could all get some run in 2022, but Fairchild’s the only right-handed hitter of that bunch. Adding Luplow gives the D-Backs an affordable, proven righty bat to help balance out the group.
In exchange, the D-Backs will send back a switch-hitting infield prospect. Simon spent most of the 2021 campaign with Low-A Visalia, where he hit .249/.343/.475 with fifteen homers and twelve steals across 349 plate appearances as a 21-year-old. Simon, who was acquired from the Cubs last November as the player to be named later in the teams’ Andrew Chafin deal, spent the bulk of his time in the middle infield, in addition to a handful of starts at third base. He’ll need to be added to the 40-man roster next offseason or be made available in the 2022 Rule 5 draft.
de Geus split the 2021 campaign between the Rangers and D-Backs. Selected out of the Dodgers’ organization in last year’s Rule 5, the 24-year-old worked 47 innings across 50 outings. He posted just a 7.56 ERA with worse than average strikeout and walk rates (17.2% and 10.5%, respectively). de Geus’ 7% swinging strike rate was the second-lowest mark among the 255 relievers with 20+ innings pitched, but he did rack up ground-balls at a strong 52.1% clip on the strength of his low-mid 90s sinker. Arizona will have a week to trade de Geus or try to pass him through waivers.