Emilio Pagan
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Padres acquire Emilio Pagan from Rays for Manuel Margot, prospect Logan Driscoll


The big trade we’ve all been waiting for has finally been made official. That’s right folks, the Rays traded reliever Emilio Pagan to San Diego in exchange for outfielder Manuel Margot and catcher/outfielder prospect Logan Driscoll.

What, you were expecting Mookie Betts? Read the headline next time.

Even if this isn’t about a former MVP, it’s a fun little trade. Pagan broke out in a big way with Tampa last year. The right-handed put up a 2.31 ERA over 70 innings and struck out 96 men while walking just 13. He was one of the most important weapons in the formidable Rays bullpen, and he’ll now partner with Kirby Yates and Drew Pomeramnz for the Padres. San Diego’s bullpen was already sneaky good, and now it’s even better. AJ Preller has done well here.

As far as the Tampa side of the deal goes, it’s an interesting fit. The Rays already had no shortage of outfielders. In addition to incumbents Austin Meadows and Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa had already gotten Hunter Renfroe from the Padres earlier in the winter and signed Yoshi Tsutsugo. They also traded for Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena from St. Louis, although Martinez is more of a 1B/DH type. Arozarena has options so he’ll probably start the season in Triple-A, and Martinez and Tsutsugo will compete for DH time given that Ji-Man Choi already has the first base job.

There’s too many pieces in place here, which makes me think that the long-rumored Kiermaier trade might happen at some point in the next few months. Kiermaier is an unquestionably great center fielder, but he makes enough money and misses enough time that he’s not the sort of dude the Rays like to keep around. Margot is essentially a slightly worse (but healthier) and much cheaper version of Kiermaier, making the subsequent trade all the more likely.

The prospect in the trade, Driscoll, was a 2019 second-rounder out of George Mason where he absolutely tore the cover off the ball. As noted above, he can both catch and play the outfield, which between that and his power makes him an Extremely Rays player indeed. This is the sort of dude the Rays like to inject their own special brand of Cardinals Devil Magic into so that he can come up and be an above-average regular for three years before trading him when it’s time to get paid in arbitration, so yeah, expect him to be knocking some dingers into the stingray tank before long. He feels like the real prize here, beyond the Margot-shaped insurance policy Tampa now has for a Kiermaier trade.

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Yankees place Aaron Judge (strained calf) on IL

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Yankees star Aaron Judge was placed on the injured list with a right calf strain before Friday night’s game against Boston and manager Aaron Boone is optimistic the outfielder will not miss significant time.

The move was retroactive to Wednesday and Boone described the strain as mild after an MRI revealed the injury. To replace Judge on the roster, Thairo Estrada was recalled from the Yankees’ alternate site in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Judge began Friday leading the majors with nine homers and tied with Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon for the major league lead with 20 RBIs.

“It’s something that I think he really wants to try and work through here and kind of wants to be out here and feels like it’s a day-to-day thing which it may very well be, but I just think obviously it goes without saying how important a player Aaron is to us,” Boone said.

Boone had said last weekend’s series on the artificial turf in Tampa Bay took its toll on the 6-foot-7 outfielder.

Judge joined Giancarlo Stanton as the second Yankees slugger to land on the injured list this. Stanton was placed on the IL with a strained hamstring after getting hurt in the second game of last Saturday’s doubleheader.

“We’ve lost two MVP-caliber players,” Boone said. “Obviously that is a blow, especially two guys that playing well as they are right now.”

Judge was pulled for a pinch hitter during Tuesday night’s win over Atlanta and didn’t play Wednesday. The Yankees were off Thursday.

The 28-year-old All-Star missed time during July’s training camp because of a stiff neck.

The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year hit 27 homers in each of the last two seasons, both of them interrupted by injuries. His right wrist was broken when he was hit by a pitch in 2018 and he went on the injured list for two months last year with a left oblique strain.

Judge was diagnosed with a broken rib in March and would not have been ready for the season opener if the season began as scheduled on March 26.