Diamondbacks designate Ryan Roberts for assignment; trade coming

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Ryan Roberts was perhaps the most pleasant surprise in Arizona’s pleasantly surprising 2011 season, taking over as the team’s third baseman and finishing with 19 homers and 18 steals in 143 games.

Alas, an encore was not meant to be. The 31-year-old Roberts, who lost his starting job last month, was designated for assignment Tuesday after hitting .250/.306/.357 in 252 at-bats this season. The move made room for fellow infielder John McDonald to return from the DL. Given that Roberts had never shown so much power in previous seasons, the decline wasn’t much of a surprise. Plus, even during his breakthrough season, he hit a modest .249.

A trade is likely forthcoming. Roberts is due only about $900,000 over the rest of the season and he offers plenty of versatility (besides third base, he can play second and both corner outfield spots), so a few teams could be interested in bringing him in. The Rays and A’s would be among the logical destinations. The Tigers were also known to want him, but that was before they acquired Omar Infante yesterday.

Update: Roberts told MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert that the Diamondbacks informed him a trade is already on the one-yard line. It sounds like it could happen within the next 24 hours.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).