Ryan Roberts was told that the move to designate him for assignment this afternoon was a prelude to a trade, and the deal got done tonight, as the versatile veteran is on his way to Tampa Bay in exchange for minor league infielder Tyler Bortnick.
The Rays were looking for inexpensive infield help and got it here, as Roberts is due a bit less than $900,000 over the rest of the year. He’ll likely see plenty of action at third base until Evan Longoria returns before sliding into more of a utility role.
It will be interesting to see who gets dropped to make room for Roberts. Brooks Conrad is still the likely choice, but he hit a big two-run homer to help the Rays beat the Orioles 3-1 on Tuesday. Hideki Matsui has yet to contribute much of anything as an outfielder/designated hitter, so the Rays could drop him instead.
Bortnick, 25, was hitting .253/.352/.385 with four homers and 23 steals in 348 at-bats for Double-A Montgomery this season. He’s a long shot to make it as a utilityman in the majors. Mostly, the Diamondbacks were just happy to save some money here.
The Padres may have some interest in acquiring Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, according to a recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It seems unlikely that the team would deal their starting third baseman with J.P. Crawford (fractured left hand) sidelined through July; to that end, however, they signed infielder Danny Espinosa as minor league depth on Friday and have reportedly been eying the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, among other veteran options.
Franco, 25, entered Sunday batting .255/.297/.425 with nine home runs and a .721 OPS in 229 plate appearances this season. While he has yet to live up to the .280+ average, 1.9+ fWAR he posted during his rookie campaign, he’s been a solid 20+ home run producer over the last few years and shown some stability at the hot corner. He’s also under team control for the next three years and could provide some much-needed insurance behind the Padres’ current third base option, 27-year-old Christian Villanueva.
Rosenthal notes that the Phillies could strike a deal for one of San Diego’s relievers, though no one specific has been connected to the team yet — and the club probably wouldn’t be able to finesse a one-for-one deal given the quality of the Padres’ pitchers. The Phillies’ bullpen has looked downright abysmal over the last month, placing 11th-worst in the league with a collective 5.34 ERA and 0.3 fWAR. Their failure to procure a viable reliever beyond Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos lends a certain urgency to any potential deal they make over the next few weeks, though the official trade deadline is still over a month away.