Following another successful Fan Fest at Tropicana Field, the Tampa Bay Rays traded Emilio Pagan to the San Diego Padres for CF Manuel Margot and prospect Logan Driscoll. Both teams added strength to their respective rosters, with the Rays getting an elite defensive centerfielder to back up Kevin Kiermaier, while San Diego added another weapon to its already strong bullpen.
Pagan will join incumbent closer, and former Ray, Kirby Yates as well as Andres Munoz, the 21-year-old flamethrower. The Padres will be Pagan’s fourth team in as many seasons after stints in Seattle, Oakland, and Tampa Bay.
2019 was his most successful campaign to date, as he collected career-bests in K/9 (12.34%), ground ball rate (34%), xFIP (3.15) and fWAR (1.5). The right-hander served as the Rays de facto closer last season, notching 20 saves in 66 games with a 2.31 ERA/3.30 FIP, besting his overall career numbers.
The ever intrepid Joel Four Bases dug into the numbers following the trade, noting a possible motive for the deal involving a critical piece of last season’s bullpen.
Tampa Bay will turn to Diego Castillo, Nick Anderson, Chaz Roe, Oliver Drake, Colin Poche, Jose Alvarado — assuming he’s back to form after a 2019 campaign riddled with injuries and familial concerns — and Peter Fairbanks, if he’s ready.
Margot, 25, is an elite defensive, albeit light-hitting, centerfielder ranking in the 97th percentile in Outs Above Average, while also boasting above-average numbers in DRS (6) and UZR (5.8) UZR. He should provide the Rays with defensive certainty up the middle should Kevin Kiermaier, again, struggle to stay healthy. Offensively, Margot slashed an underwhelming .234 BA/.304 OBP/.387 SLG/.721 OPS last season, in line with his career mark of .248 BA/.301 OBP/.394 SLG/.695 OPS. Margot swiped 20 bags in 24 stolen base attempts (83.3%), the sixth-best rate in the National League.
Yet it’s a different story against southpaws, against whom he slashed .330 BA/.420 OBP/.466 SLG/.886 OPS — ranking seventh in the NL in batting average and sixth in on-base percentage (minimum of 100 at-bats).
As Scott Grauer (DRaysBay) writes of Driscoll, 22, he was the No. 73 pick in the 2019 draft. In its predraft scouting report, Baseball America noted the left-handed hitting catcher was known for his solid defense (BA $). He also spent a number of games in right field, showing the versatility that the Rays value. In the Northwest League — equivalent to the New York-Penn League — he batted .268/.340/.458, all significantly higher than the league averages.