The San Francisco Giants made their move on Wednesday, and found the answer to their questions at third base.
The team announced it traded for former Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria and cash. It cost them Denard Span, Christian Arroyo, and minor leaguers Stephen Wood as well as Matt Krook.
“We’re so thrilled to have Evan join us,” manager Bruce Bochy said in a conference call Wednesday. “It’s going to be one of the best infield defenses in the game.”
Longoria hit 36 home runs in 2016 before regressing to 20 last season. He slashed .261/.313/.424 and ranked as the 15th-best third baseman in MLB, according to the WAR statistic on Fangraphs. He has a reputation for being a top-rate defensive player as the second-best at this position, per the defensive runs saved metric. He’s played in at least 156 games over the last five seasons.
“Evan gives us a Gold Glove caliber player at third-base and also provides us a middle of the order presence in the lineup,” Bobby Evans said in the news release. “His durability and leadership will strengthen our club moving forward.”
Longoria is under contract until 2022 with a team option in 2023. He signed a 15-year, $144.5 million deal in 2008.
The trade gets the Giants out of the three-year, $31-million contract they signed with Span.
The former center fielder struggled with the spacious dimensions of AT&T Park and the team planned to move him to left had he stayed in San Francisco.
Span slashed .272/.329/.427, but carried a -1.1 WAR, according to Baseball Reference.
Arroyo, 22, struggled to justify being the Giants’ first-round selection in the 2013 draft in his only season in the big leagues. He played in 34 games, hitting .192/.244/.304 with three home runs. For the Rays, he represents a buy-low opportunity on a big-time prospect who one could reasonably expect to turn it around and be an everyday contributor. He’s been struggling with injuries lately, though, ending the 2017 regular season and winter ball early.
“It’s the cost of doing business,” Brian Sabean explained about losing the organization’s top prospect. “Unfortunately when you get involved with different discussions and what you want to bring onto the team, most of the time your top people are asked about. … We knew we’d have to trade him to plug an immediate hole with a veteran.”
The Giants aren’t done making moves as they attempt to complete a massive turnaround from a 2017 season that saw them finish dead last in the NL West.
Evans said the club views left field as “a work in progress” and that the goal is to improve that position and the lineup before Opening Day.
Longoria expressed excitement to be joining a traditionally great team that has competed for championships and filled up the park in recent years — something he was missing in Tampa Bay.
“It’s an even year coming up and I know the Giants win in even years,” he said in his introductory call.