The 28-year-old outfielder knew the Tampa Bay Rays were making some big changes but felt assured by management that he still figured in their plans.
“As much as people were flying off the shelf, it seemed like I was not going to be one of those people,” Souza said Wednesday in a conference call from the airport before boarding a plane to Arizona. “It definitely caught me off-guard a little bit. I was definitely preparing for the role that I had there.”
Souza came to the Diamondbacks on Tuesday in a three-team trade that sent infielder Brandon Drury from Arizona to the New York Yankees and left-hander Anthony Banda, a top Arizona pitching prospect, to Tampa Bay.
Souza batted just .239 last season but hit 30 homers, drove in 78 runs and walked 84 times, all three career highs.
Nobody expects Souza to approach the numbers Martinez put up with Arizona — 29 homers and 65 RBIs in 62 games.
“That’s ridiculous,” Souza said. “I don’t know that anybody’s really done those types of things that he did in the second half. So to expect me to come in and say I’m going to fulfill those shoes would be a little far-fetched. But I’ll tell you I’m going to come in and play my game, and I’m going to play as hard as I can every single game, and I’m going to help this team win a ballgame.”
He will, most likely, be playing the same position as Martinez and be the batter to provide some protection for Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup.
“We haven’t sat down with him to finalize the exact thoughts, but this is an impact bat,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “He’s going to play as much as he possibly can. … We haven’t finalized exactly what’s going to happen, but if you want me to speculate right now, he’s going to play just about every day and play right field.”
Speedy Jarrod Dyson, who finalized a two-year, $7.5 million contract Monday, will be “more than a fourth outfielder,” Lovullo said.
“There’s a lot of guys I know, and great dudes actually,” Souza said.
Souza said he met Goldschmidt through a mutual friend and the two took part in a leadership retreat, going hunting together.
“Man, we connected right away,” Souza said. “His personality and mine kind of match up, the way we think. What an amazing man he is.”
Lovullo wouldn’t say what would be done at second base with Drury gone to the Yankees. The Diamondbacks still have plenty of middle infield help.
One possibility would be to shift Ketel Marte from shortstop to second. Ahmed would mostly play at short with Chris Owings filling in all over the infield as well as in the outfield. Daniel Descalso also can play just about anywhere.
Marte said he would not object to the switch.
“I don’t care. I just want to be with the team,” he said. “I don’t care where I play. I can play anywhere. I just have to be ready to play anywhere.”
Lovullo watched Souza often when the Arizona manager was Boston’s bench coach.
“He was still a young player that was finding his way, but he seemed to improve every time we saw him,” Lovullo said. “The athletic ability, the ability to hit for power, the defensive ability — it was obvious to the opposing dugout that he was an exciting player.”
Souza credited his improvement last season to a number of factors, including his work with Tampa Bay’s coaches and “settling in and trusting my ability more and more.”
“I gave everything I had in the offseason to Tampa. I gave everything I had to those guys,” he said, “and now I’m ready to give everything I have to the Diamondbacks.”
Milwaukee Brewers acquire Eduardo Escobar from Arizona Diamondbacks for two prospects
Escobar, 32, has 22 home runs for the last-place Diamondbacks. He can play any infield position, and is likely to see time at third and first base. The Brewers have Willy Adames and Kolten Wong playing shortstop and second base, respectively.
The switch-hitting Escobar has a career .778 OPS in 11 seasons, the past four with Arizona. It’s the third in-season trade to net the Brewers an infielder, as they previously acquired Adames from the Tampa Bay Rays and first baseman Rowdy Tellez from the Toronto Blue Jays.
Milwaukee is sending back prospects Cooper Hummel and Alberto Ciprian to complete the deal.
Hummel, 26, was an 18th-round pick for Milwaukee in 2016 and is currently at Triple-A, where he’s slashing .254/.435/.508. He has played first base, catcher and the outfield for Nashville.
Ciprian, 18, signed as an undrafted free agent with Milwaukee in 2019 and is playing in the Dominican Summer League, averaging .378 while adding eight RBIs in his first 12 professional games.
Escobar was highly sought-after, with the Chicago White Sox also interested in his services, but Milwaukee has just as big a need for him. The Brewers rank last in batting in the National League, hitting 21 points lower as a team than Escobar’s .246 batting average.
New York Yankees set to acquire Joey Gallo from Texas Rangers, sources say
The deal is pending a medical review.
It wasn’t immediately known who New York was sending to Texas to complete the deal.
Gallo was a late scratch from the Rangers’ lineup ahead of Wednesday night’s game against the Diamondbacks, with speculation that a trade was in the works.
New York’s left-handed hitters have struggled this season, ranking last in the majors in average (.197), 28th in home runs (22) and OPS (.633) and 29th in hard-hit rate (33%).
Gallo should help.
He’s spent all seven of his major league seasons in Texas, but the Rangers — an AL West-worst 36-65 entering Wednesday — have been in sell mode, with Gallo their prized piece.
A two-time All-Star, the 27-year-old slugger ranks sixth in the AL this season with 25 home runs, to go with 55 RBIs and a .223 average. He had struggled mightily at the plate since the All-Star break, with zero home runs and a .067 average in the 10 games following, before breaking out Tuesday with a three-run shot against the Diamondbacks.
Gallo is among just eight rostered major leaguers with multiple career 40-HR seasons (2017, ’18).
But he’s also excelled in the outfield, winning a Gold Glove in right in 2020. He leads the majors with 14 defensive runs saved this season and joins Toronto’s Marcus Semien as the only players with 20 home runs and 10 defensive runs saved.
Gallo is also under team control through 2022.
Houston Astros bolster pen, deal for Miami Marlins closer Yimi Garcia
In exchange for Garcia, the Astros sent outfielder Bryan De La Cruz and right-hander Austin Pruitt to the Marlins.
It’s the second straight day the AL West-leading Astros have swung a trade to add bullpen help. On Tuesday, Houston acquired Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero from the Mariners.
Garcia, 30, has 15 saves for the Marlins this season and is 3-7 with a 3.47 ERA. He has struck out 35 and walked just five batters in 36⅓ innings pitched. He has a 3.41 ERA over seven major league seasons.
De La Cruz, 24, is hitting .324 with 12 home runs and 50 RBIs for Triple-A Sugar Land this season.
Pruitt, 31, is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in two major league appearances for the Astros this season.
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