Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that next week’s series between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays has been moved from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg to Citi Field in New York due to Hurricane Irma.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the original intention was to move it to Baltimore but that logistics made New York a better location. Specifically, only one team will need to find hotel rooms given that the Yankees are playing locally. At the same time, this is taking what should have been a home series from the Rays — who are fighting for a Wild Card spot at the moment — and putting it in their opposition’s hometown. Maybe there weren’t enough hotel rooms in Baltimore, but I can’t help but think there was a better option than New York, given that the Yankees are one of the teams involved.
Here’s Major League Baseball’s official statement:
Major League Baseball announced today that the Tampa Bay Rays’ upcoming home series vs. the New York Yankees has been relocated from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida to Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, due to Hurricane Irma. The Rays will be considered the home team and will bat last. The games will have first pitch slated for 7:10 p.m. (ET) on Monday, September 11th; 7:10 p.m. (ET) on Tuesday, September 12th; and 1:10 p.m. (ET) on Wednesday, September 13th.
Unless I’m forgetting some random hiccup of history, this will be the first time the Yankees have been the home team — figuratively, not technically, as the Rays will bat last — at the Mets’ ballpark since the Yankee Stadium renovations moved them into Shea Stadium for the 1974 and 1975 seasons.
UPDATE: OK, I was wrong about that. It still will be weird:
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.