Blue Jays trade leadoff hitter Eric Sogard across the diamond to Rays

Blue Jays trade leadoff hitter Eric Sogard across the diamond to Rays

The Blue Jays made their first trade ahead of Wednesday’s deadline, dealing leadoff hitter Eric Sogard to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

It was a short trip for the 33-year-old utilityman, with the Rays finishing a three-game series at the Rogers Centre on Sunday afternoon.

The return wasn’t immediately clear. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reported that it wasn’t expected to be anyone off the Rays’ major-league roster.

Multiple teams were interested in acquiring Sogard, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, with the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants in the mix.

Sogard, scratched from the Jays lineup just before opening pitch on Sunday, signed a minor-league deal in December. He didn’t make the team out of spring training, but was promoted in mid-April and had been one of Toronto’s most consistent hitters ever since, batting a career-high .300 with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs. His .304 average and .854 OPS as a leadoff hitter, plus his ability to play infield and corner outfield positions, attracted interest among contenders looking for options once it became clear the Kansas City Royals were unlikely to trade leadoff man Whit Merrifield.

The cost-conscious Rays were not expected to make a big splash at the trade deadline despite dealing with a litany of injuries, including to second baseman Brandon Lowe (shin), third baseman Daniel Robertson (knee), third baseman Yandy Diaz (foot) and centre fielder Kevin Kiermaier (thumb). They are legitimate contenders for a playoff spot for the first time since 2013.

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