Posted on December 20, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
After making a concerted effort to land a marquee player this offseason, the San Francisco Giants have finally succeeded. On Wednesday, the Giants acquired third baseman Evan Longoria from the Tampa Bay Rays in a five-player trade. As part of the deal, the Rays will get Denard Span, infield prospect Christian Arroyo, and pitching prospects Matt Krook and Stephen Woods.
“This move fills an important need for our club and completes one of our offseason goals,” said Giants executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean. “Evan has been one of the best third basemen in the game over the last decade, and we are thrilled to add him to the organization. Moving forward, we will continue to work on additional opportunities to improve the club for 2018.”
The 32-year old Longoria is not the same player he was earlier in his career. He began his career by posting an OPS of .850 or higher in six consecutive seasons. However, he’s posted an OPS over .800 just once in the last four seasons. That being said, he’s still one of the more trustworthy third basemen in baseball. He’s also a great leader in the clubhouse and a great asset to the Giants, who are hoping to reload quickly after a disappointing 2017 season.
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Despite the addition of Longoria, the Giants remain weak in the outfield. They may also have a spot or two in their rotation to fill after trading Matt Moore to the Rangers last week. However, San Francisco doesn’t appear to be anywhere close to finished this winter. The Giants are likely to be serious bidders for at least one of the big-name free agents still available.
As for the Rays, Longoria would have gained full no-trade rights in early April, and so the Rays had to trade him now or risk not being able to move him at all. Longoria is owed at least $86 million over the next five years and getting that contract off their payroll should give Tampa plenty of payroll flexibility, even if it means parting ways with the face of the franchise.
“Evan is our greatest Ray. For a decade, he’s been at the center of all of our successes, and it’s a very emotional parting for us all,” said Rays owner Stuart Sternberg in a statement. “I speak for our entire organization in wishing Evan and his wonderful family our absolute best.”
Getting Span as part of the deal will offset some of the payroll flexibility the Rays gained by trading Longoria. However, Span has just one more year on his contract, so he will be off their books by 2019. On the field, he should add depth to the Tampa Bay outfield, although he may not warrant an everyday job at this point in his career.
Arroyo, who was San Francisco’s top prospect, according to MLB.com, is the top prize in the trade for the Rays. He will be Tampa’s no. 4 prospect and could end up being Longoria’s replacement. The Rays also have Matt Duffy at third base. However, he missed all of 2017 after surgery on his Achilles. The Rays could also see if Arroyo can handle playing shortstop in the majors. There have long been rumors that Adeiny Hechavarria was on the trading block in Tampa. Arroyo has played mostly at shortstop in the minors but may be better suited at third base.
Obviously, trading Longoria was a difficult move for the Rays, but it was necessary for the future of the team. They may now be able to keep some of their other top players and continue to rebuild with a rather impressive farm system. Meanwhile, the Giants added the veteran hit they’ve been seeking all offseason. Longoria alone won’t turn things around for the Giants after a brutal 2017 season. But adding Longoria is a good place to start.