Switching sides: Jays trade Sogard across diamond to Rays
TORONTO (AP) — Eric Sogard wasn’t quite sure who to root for in Sunday’s game between Toronto and Tampa Bay.
Originally in Toronto’s lineup as the right fielder, the veteran utilityman was scratched about 15 minutes before the first pitch and replaced by Billy McKinney.
By the second inning, with Sogard sitting in the Blue Jays dugout, reports emerged that he had been traded across the diamond to the visiting Rays.
After the game, the Blue Jays confirmed the deal, which will see two players to be named later join Toronto.
The Rays also made two other trades Sunday, one with Cleveland and another with Texas.
Sogard moved from the struggling Blue Jays to a Rays team in the thick of the playoff race. He didn’t play for Tampa Bay, which won 10-9 and is near the top of the AL wild-card chase.
“I’m excited, excited to be with a team in contention to make the playoffs,” Sogard said. “I certainly hope I can bring to them what I’ve done here in Toronto and help them make the playoffs.”
Being traded to the team on the other side of the field put Sogard in something of a strange spot.
“I was kind of sitting there thinking what team I should be cheering for,” he joked.
Unfortunately for Sogard, the chance to wear two uniforms in one day didn’t materialize.
“It would have been awesome,” he said. “It would have been neat even starting the game with the Blue Jays and then being able to go over and finish it with them.”
The 33-year-old Sogard, who is having a career season, batting .300 with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs in 73 games. He began the year with 11 career homers in 584 games over eight seasons with Oakland and Milwaukee.
“He’s a good hitter, I think he’s going to help us a lot,” Rays shortstop Willy Adames said. “He’s hitting .300, he gets on base a lot. We need that, we need people on base. He’s fast, too, he can steal some bases. I think that’s a good move for us.”
Rays manager Kevin Cash said Sogard will be used primarily at second base, but will likely move around. The Rays place a high value on defensive versatility and Sogard provides that. He can play second, third, shortstop and both corner outfield positions.
“I think he fits our team really well,” Cash said. “He’s another guy that you can kind of plug in different spots. You’re going to get really, really good defense throughout the infield.”
Sogard went to the playoffs with Oakland in 2013 and 2014, appearing in five October games. Cash said he was pleased to add a player with postseason experience.
“We’ll take it because we’ve got a lot of guys in here that have not and I think that will do us some good,” Cash said.
Sogard did not leave Toronto with the Rays, who have an off day in Boston on Monday.
“I’m going to fly out tomorrow,” he said.
To clear a roster spot for Sogard, the Rays traded right-hander Hunter Wood and minor league infielder Christian Arroyo to Cleveland. Tampa Bay received minor league outfielder Ruben Cardenas and international slot money.
Also Sunday, the Rays traded right-hander Ian Gibaut to Texas for a player to be named or cash. The 25-year-old Gibaut made his major league debut on July 12, giving up two runs in two innings in his only game for Tampa Bay.
Gibaut was designated for assignment by the Rays on July 23. He was optioned to Triple-A by Texas and lefty Jesse Biddle was transferred from the 10-day to the 60-day injured list with shoulder fatigue.