The 2011 playoff qualifiers represent payrolls of all sizes

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Blogging is basically about reacting to stuff, but sometimes it helps to get ahead of the narrative a bit.  Just to help you prepare, here are the potential state-of-the-game storylines we can expect to see in the coming weeks:

  • If the Yankees face the Phillies in the World Series baseball is broken because the big payroll teams are just buying championships; and
  • If some combination of the Diamondbacks, Brewers, Rays or Rangers make the World Series, the low TV ratings such matchups will create will be proof that baseball is truly dead;

I’m not sure what we do if the Cardinals or Tigers figure in somehow. Maybe something about passionate fans who live in cities outsiders like to denigrate. People eat that crap up.

Anyway, all of this is just an excuse to link Maury Brown’s post from yesterday in which he detailed the payroll situation of the eight playoff teams. Short version: the payroll ranks of the qualifiers: 1 (Yankees); 2 (Philly); 10 (Tigers); 11 (Cards); 13 (Rangers); 17 (Brewers); 25 (Dbacks); 29 (Devil Rays).

So, two rich kids, four middle-of-the-packers and two sisters of the poor.  Viva balance and parity. Just don’t expect anyone to give baseball too much credit for that because it doesn’t fit the usual narratives.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays in part of three-team deal

Tampa Bay Rays
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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.