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Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer

Marc Topkin

Marc Topkin has covered baseball for the Times since 1987 — from the lengthy effort to secure a team, to the awarding of the Tampa Bay franchise in 1995, and through each of the Rays seasons starting in 1998. He has traveled throughout the United States with the team, as well as to Canada, Venezuela, Mexico and Japan, and has covered All-Star Games and the World Series, as well as Super Bowls and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Phone: (727) 893-8801


Blog: The Heater

Twitter: @TBTimes_Rays

  1. Evan Longoria aftermath: Questions and answers from the trade

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays obviously made big news Wednesday in trading franchise cornerstone Evan Longoria to the Giants. What's next? A lot.

    Though it's nearly Christmas, the Rays have much to do in the coming weeks, deciding how far to go in their rebuild and who else to trade as they seek to trim payroll and add young talent, sorting out where the players they have and are adding fit, and how best to fill the remaining holes. Here are a few of the big questions, regarding Longoria, new Rays Christian Arroyo and Denard Span, and the overall situation, and at least some answers:...

  2. The rebuild begins in earnest: Rays trade Evan Longoria to Giants

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It wasn't supposed to end like this, with Evan Longoria driving around on a "tough" Wednesday morning figuring out how to say goodbye to Tampa Bay and hello to San Francisco while Rays officials were tepidly trying to explain why they had just traded the best player in franchise history.

    When Longoria agreed in November 2012 to sign a second long-term deal at team-friendly terms, the narrative was about the mutual commitment they had made for the next decade, how he never wanted to go anywhere else and how the Rays planned to keep him forever, envisioning the day he would lead them onto the field at their new stadium....

  3. Evan Longoria told Rays if trade was imminent, he wanted 'a win for both sides'

    The Heater

    Evan Longoria mentioned several times during Wednesday's conference call that he needed time to organize his thoughts for a proper goodbye that would appear as an ad in today's Tampa Bay Times. But he still had plenty to say after being traded to the Giants by the Rays.

    On his reaction to being dealt:

    "It's obviously a tough day for myself and my family and for all of the friendships and relationships I've made over the years there.''...

  4. Evan Longoria: His greatest Rays moments

    The Heater

    1. 2011: Game 162 homer

    Joining Bobby Thomson as the only players to hit walkoff homers in the final regular season games to put their teams into the postseason is pretty good company. That it was Longoria's second homer of the game and in the 12th inning of a game the Rays trailed 7-0 made it even more dramatic. (That the day after starting just the third triple play in franchise history.)...

  5. Rays' trade silence likely a short-lived phenomenon

    The Heater

    LAKE BUENA VISTA — There were a lot of reasons the Rays didn't start the process of trading some of their bigger-name, higher-paid players at last week's winter meetings.

    Most obvious was them not finding the just-right deal to move closer Alex Colome, 3B Evan Longoria, starters Chris Archer and/or Jake Odorizzi and others. Another seemed to be the Orioles tossing Manny Machado into the market, understandably leading several teams to at least put aside what they were doing to look, including the Cardinals, with whom the Rays match up with very well and remain very much engaged on multiple trade scenarios....

  6. Rays re-sign pitcher Jonny Venters, among 13 invited to spring training

    The Heater

    LAKE BUENA VISTA — LHP Jonny Venters got as far as Triple A in September. Now the former All-Star is positioned to make it all the way back to the majors for the first time since 2012, re-signing with the Rays and headlining Thursday's announcement of 13 players invited to spring training.

    Venters, 32, has spent the past three years with the Rays, recovering from his third Tommy John elbow surgery and then an additional 2016 procedure. Overall, he pitched in 24 games last season, working his way up from the Gulf Coast League to Triple-A Durham in posting a 2.28 ERA....

  7. Winter meetings journal: Rays trade for money to sign top international free agent

    The Heater

    LAKE BUENA VISTA — While most of the business conducted at the meetings impacts the big-league team one way or another, the Rays are working to finalize a move they hope pays off big sometime in the 2020s.

    In trading Wednesday to acquire $1 million in international bonus pool space, the Rays are positioned to sign SS Jelfry Marte, a 16-year-old from the Dominican Republic ranked as one of the top international prospects. Marte had signed last summer with the Twins for $3 million, but the deal was voided due to vision issues, which the Rays feel good enough about to take a gamble for about $800,000....

  8. Market starting to set itself as Rays' trade talks intensify

    The Heater

    LAKE BUENA VISTA — Alex Colome claimed he was just showing good social media manners Tuesday night in following four Cardinals-related Instagram accounts since they were saying nice things about him.

    In doing so, whether for that reason or another more specific, Colome provided some vague hint of progress in what had been a winter meetings of much more talk for the Rays than action....

  9. Winter meetings journal: Rays add more infield depth, claim it isn't prelude to a trade

    The Heater

    LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays on Tuesday adding their third infielder in the past two weeks would sure look like a precursor to trading front-liners such as 3B Evan Longoria or 2B Brad Miller.

    But GM Erik Neander insisted that was not the case and that the trade to get former Padres starting 3B Ryan Schimpf, like previous pickups of Micah Johnson (off waivers) and Joey Wendle (who had been DFA'd), was the unrelated combination of interest and circumstance....

  10. GMs-turned-pundits believe now may be the time for Rays to sell

    The Heater

    LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays have been doing a lot of talking, making another small deal Tuesday while still working toward bigger ones of a still-being-determined degree.

    And there have been a lot of baseball people at the winter meetings talking about them, especially on whether they should make just a few trades and keep what's left of their 80-82 team intact or sell off their big names, starting with Evan Longoria and Chris Archer, in going for a rebuild....

  11. Winter meetings journal: Rays closer Alex Colome drawing interest

    The Heater

    LAKE BUENA VISTA — The Rays made a small deal Monday in acquiring INF Joey Wendle from Oakland while continuing to discuss bigger ones that seem likely to eventually lead to the trade of closer Alex Colome and then others.

    The Rockies and Mets joined the Cardinals and Cubs as teams most interested in Colome, whose projected $5.5 million salary and three years until free agency make him a hot commodity, especially with mid-level relievers such as Pat Neshek getting $16 million over two years (from the Phillies)....

  12. Yankees' acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton may hasten Rays' dismantling

    The Heater

    LAKE BUENA VISTA — The latest obstacle keeping the Rays from contending in the American League East loomed even larger Monday afternoon in pinstripes.

    The Yankees' formal introduction of Giancarlo Stanton also could be an accelerant to the departure of Evan Longoria, and some familiar for-the-moment teammates, as the Rays acknowledge and accept that the gap between them and the best team in their division is now a gulf....

  13. Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays' plans

    The Heater

    LAKE BUENA VISTA — Uncertain with all the talk about potentially rebuilding if the Rays would go as far as trading franchise cornerstone 3B Evan Longoria?

    So is he.

    "I don't know what to think, really,'' Longoria said via text message Sunday night as the winter meetings opened.

    "I think they have made it pretty clear that they want to cut salary, so I guess that leaves me somewhere in limbo. I think I've been pretty up front about wanting to be in Tampa (Bay) for my whole career, but I realize that my window is getting smaller to win a championship. ...

  14. Rays sue outgoing concessionaire over "sad history" of failures

    The Heater

    The Tampa Bay Rays sued outgoing concessionaire Centerplate in U.S. District Court on Friday, alleging the company harmed the team's reputation, damaged its facilities and did not pay a fair share of revenue as part of a "sad history of failing to fulfill its obligations.''

    Though no amount is specified, the Rays are likely seeking millions of dollars in damages, citing inspectors and consultants finding black mold, live insects and poor hand-washing at Tropicana Field, along with billing issues, reporting errors, high costs and profit-sharing failures, among other issues....

  15. Winter Meetings Preview: Ranking the Rays most likely to be dealt

    The Heater

    Rays officials head to Disney for this week's winter meetings admitting they don't know what they're doing. Wait — that's not exactly right. It's more that they don't know what they're going to do.

    Having spent months collecting info and discussing options while eagerly waiting for the non-Ohtani/Stanton portion of the off-season to begin, Rays officials say they are open to "anything and everything,'' have several plans in place and that feedback from the market will determine their path....