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Friday, December 22, 2017

Evan Longoria joins Giants, but still plenty to do

The Giants finally made their first big splash of the offseason, and while it was a far cry from a Giancarlo Stanton or Manny Machado trade, the move does makes them a better team then they were prior (how much so remains to be seen). The club doesn't appear to be stopping with just Evan Longoria either.

With numerous holes remaining, especially in the outfield, the Giants now appear as if they're ready to go all out in attempt to compete again in 2018 and turn around, in one offseason, a team that was two losses shy of 100 in 2017.

On Tuesday night the attempt officially began with the Giants and Rays striking the deal for Longoria. The trade sent Denard Span and Christian Arroyo as well as lower level minor league pitchers Stephen Woods and Matt Krook to Tampa for the star third basemen. Although still young players with upside, neither pitcher was very highly ranked in the Giants minor league system, so losing those two doesn't sting too badly. Losing Christian Arroyo, however, was a big one as he was one of the organizations most bright young players with a ton of potential and still just 22 years of age. The issue with Arroyo though, is that he;s much more valuable as a shortstop or second basemen at the major league level, and the Giants have those spots covered for years to come. He had more than a cup of coffee with the Giants in '17 and had a decent couple of weeks after his call-up, but his average started to plummet over time and then he got hurt and never really was much of a factor after that. In 124 at-bats, the 22 year-old hit just .192 with 3 jacks, 14 RBI and just 9 runs scored with the big club. Sure it was his first cup of coffee in the show but I just don't think the Giants were confident in him being their third basemen of the future and that made him expendable in a trade. He was one of the teams biggest trade chips so that tells me that a package headlining him wasn't going to fetch a talent higher than Longoria.

Enough about the guys the Giants sent away, lets talk about the guy we'll be watching man the hot corner for the club for multiple seasons to come. Since coming into the league in 2008, Evan Longoria has been one of the best, most consistent all-around third basemen in all of baseball. The 32 year-old is a 3-time all-star, former rookie of the year, 3-time gold-glover and has finished within the top-10 of AL MVP voting four times in his 10-year career. That being said, he hasn't made the all-star team since 2010, but that can be attributed in large part to the AL being stocked with a lot of high end third basemen over the last 6-7 years. Looking at his most recent bodies of work though, Longoria has shown he's still got a lot of punch in that bat and his 2017 gold glove award proves he's still at the top of the game on the defensive end. His full season average slash line over his career is a very respectable .270/29/101/.823 with 38 doubles but I believe the defensive aspect of his game is what pushed the Giants over on him. If they signed Todd Frazier, the Giants would have gotten their 20-30 home run threat, but would not be getting the average that Longoria will hopefully provide nor the gold-glove caliber defense.

Now, while the newest Giant has had a remarkably consistent career, some people are worried he's in the middle of his offensive decline, as he's sported an OPS over .800 just once in the last 4 seasons. That season, however, was the 2016 season which he blasted a career-high 36 big flies, drove in 98 and rocked 41 doubles to get to a .840 OPS. He had a pretty pedestrian 2017 by his standards though, with a slash line of .261/20/86/.737. The HR and RBI totals from last season though would still have led the '17 Giants squad, which is a testament to how badly they needed to bring in some consistent power and run production.

My thoughts on the deal after marinating on it over the last couple of days though are mostly positive. I do think he'll keep his 20+ home run potential despite moving into the more pitcher friendly yard and division plus his defense certainly isn't about to fall-off anytime soon. I also don't think they necessarily overpaid to get him, although losing Arroyo could effect what this team looks like when they do start to inevitably move into that younger makeover. By all accounts, he's a tremendous club house presence, and hopefully joining a perennial contender will sort of give him a second life and rejuvinate his bat a little bit and get his power production numbers up a little bit. Even if he repeated his 2017 season in '18 though, I don't think anyone would call this trade a bad deal for the Giants (unless Arroyo goes on to become an all-star with the Rays within the next few seasons). I would love to see him back up around 25+ HR and 100 RBI as well as getting his OPS back up around or above .800. As far as whether or not this deal was a good one or a bad one I'll answer that question like this; if the Giants go on to win another tittle that Longoria plays a big part in or even helps them stay perennial contenders over the next handful of seasons, then this move will be deemed successful. So let's just wait to see what else the Giants have in store and what kind of product they put on the field next year.

So the Giants finally got the ball rolling with their offseason and it's given us an idea as to where this team considers themselves for the next few seasons. They obviously are considering themselves contenders for 2018 and at least a few seasons after that as well and they're not about to take their foot off the gas pedal in terms of looking for additional upgrades for this roster. With the dealing of Span, it now leaves the Giants with Hunter Pence as the only major leaguer with everyday playing experience at this level meaning they're going to need another couple of outfield additions at least, especially with Pence being so injury prone the last few seasons and maybe not even being an everyday player in 2018. As of now, he'd be their starting right fielder, and I do think he'll be in the starting lineup somewhere on opening day. I believe that if the Giants can get enough depth on their outfield roster though, it would allow Boch to use Pence a little more sparingly in '18 which would hopefully result in a fresher, healthier and more effective outfielder.
As far as potential partners for Pence in that outfield, one names is becoming more and more close to joining the Giants with each passing day, and that player is Jay Bruce. The agent for Bruce has said the 31 year-old's top choice is San Francisco, by a long shot, and if they Giants can maybe get him to take a little less money then it would cost them to obtain maybe Adam Jones or Andrew McCutchen, then they very well may go that route. I'm not as high on Bruce though as I am the other two guys mentioned as he's a low average, low on-base left handed power guy who sort of relies on 35-40 HR seasons to contribute to his team and not a whole helluva lot else. The worry here is that playing in AT&T would obviously cut down on his power numbers, maybe significantly enough to make him a risky add. Bruce also is seeking a 4-year deal and the Giants have made it clear they'd prefer no more than 3 years. So there are still some hurdles if the Giants are indeed going to sign the slugger, but he certainly seems like he's going to be the big free agent signing for the club at the moment, although we all know how quickly things can change in this game (just look at how the Marlins and Giants had a deal in place for Giancarlo Stanton, only to have the outfielder decline the deal after mulling it over).

Even if they did add Bruce though, it would still leave the Giants with a gaping hole in center field, and the newest name brought into the mix to potentially fill that void is Jacoby Ellsbury. I'm not sure if the Giants have any interest in the aging Yankees center fielder, but he specifically mentioned them as a team he'd prefer a trade to if he is indeed dealt out of New York's crowded outfield. Ellsbury just doesn't make sense for the Giants though, as he's essentially a much more expensive, older version of Denard Span, granted he still does play a decent center field. I'd just assume go with their young in-house option, Steven Duggar, who's a very good center fielder and appears to be showing more offensive prowess over time. If they went that route they could support or supplant Duggar with a cheaper free agent option like Jarrod Dyson. Billy Hamilton has been on their radar as well but Dyson is basically a more refined version of Hamilton with a better plate presence, granted he's not quite the speed demon Hamilton is, he's close.

There are a lot more names than those mentioned in this piece out there who the Giants are looking at, have looked at or will look at. Right now the name ringing the most bells since the Longoria add and the team finally showed their intentions for 2018 is Jay Bruce. So don't be surprised if we're back here before Christmas talking about a newly inked left-handed slugger. If they do add Bruce, which the baseball world sure feels will come to fruition, then you'd then be looking at a lineup like the one below. A starting eight that would still has big question marks in left and center, but not a terrible looking bunch on paper, especially the top-6 hitters (although ideally they could find a leadoff hitting outfielder, drop Panik to second and move Belt down into the bottom third):

2B Joe Panik (L)
1B Brandon Belt (L)
3B Evan Longoria (R)
C Buster Posey (R)
RF Jay Bruce (L)
SS Brandon Crawford (L)
LF Hunter Pence(R)
CF Steven Duggar (L)
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 3:56 AM, Anonymous Patrick Keefer said…

    I wonder if there's anyway we could get Wil Myers from San Deigo. I'm one of the Giants fans that has migrated to SD and I've seen a lot of Myers. That guy's a stud and I would be so down to trade Belt and some prospects to SD for him if we could. I personally cannot stand Belt feel like he's the most overrated guys on the team. He obviously has talent but never reaches his potential and almost 30 now and does anyone ever see him being great with the Giants? I sure don't but could see him doing better in a ballpark more suited for leftys.

  • At 5:45 PM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…


    Wil Myers is a solid hitter and should have an even bigger future. He had a similar season to Longoria's last year, although hit for a little more pop and stole some bases, Longoria had the better average, more RBI and the gold glove defense. I would definitely love Myers to come aboard and he'd be a great help, the Padres likely aren't going to deal their best player who's just now entering his prime at 27 years of age. They probably wouldn't want to take on Belt's large deal either, making the Giants have to absorb a portion of it and they'd also want a few top prospects as well, I'm sure. So yes, the idea is intriguing, It's highly unlikely given Myers age, ability and being the guy the Pads are planning to build around over the next 5 years at a very reasonable rate of around $12.5M/per over the next 5 seasons.

  • At 12:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I would really like to get JBJ from Boston for center, then if we could sign Bruce for right, let Pence and that Duggar guy share left and if they don't get it done then add a left fielder in the trade deadline. That would be a pretty sick lineup if you ask me

    1. JBJ/Panik 2.JBJ/Panik 3. Posey 4. Bruce 5. Longoria 6. Craw 7.Pence 8. Belt

    I could live with that for sure and what if Pence went all pre-2014 Pence on these fools and hits like 25 HR and 90 RBI? Giants would be pretty damn good if you ask me. And if he doesn't, go out and get McCutchen or the guy from Marlins, I think his name is Christian Yellich or something like that, there will always be options at the dealine, just hopefully they wouldn't need to give up a shit ton of prospects to get Bradly. Id they can't get bradley or McCutchen then I say give Duggar a chance. Hamilton would be ok, but he can't really hit that well and they Reds want too much for him so might as well go for JBJ for slighly higher if it's possible.

    At least this is a fun offseason so far and keeping fans on our toes. I'm excited to get off work and tune into KNBR right away to see if anything happened, then hit up MLB Trade Rumors. Hoping one of these days soon I get to see " Giants trade for Bradley JR. and sign Bruce all in one day" or " Giants sign JD Martinez and Jarrod Dyson"...

    Still hoping for not 1, but 2 more impact bats/gloves and I am I the only one who still is uneasy with their back rotation and half their pen? I deon't really wanna be forced into seeing guys like Steven Okert Josh Osich and Derrick law having these big roles. I'm cool with Melancon, Gearin, Dyson and Smith, the rest I think can be upgraded even Kontos.

  • At 1:15 PM, Blogger Mike Mooney said…

    That's good - everyone likes JBJ. JBJ is a LH batter, making 5 in your projected lineup. A RH batting CF also with great defense is Juan Lagares NYM. Not much of a hitter though, so he'd probably bat 8th, slide Belt back to the #2 hole where he has been very dangerous. I'd like to see the Giants expand flexibility at SP with Trevor Cahill and/or Chris Tillman, both bounce back FA's that could re-establish value at ATT Park. Then you could send Samardzija and his 14M/year in a trade for JBJ or JL or Clint Frazier (NYY) to play CF and SF pick up a prospect at the same time, keeping all the current prospects in our farm.

  • At 12:03 AM, Blogger Trevor Cole said…

    Unless the Giants are going to go out and get Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn (assuming Darvish is well out of their price range) then I would tread carefully on trading Samardzija. I mean, as we stand now, the Giants already have questions in their back-end rotation now that Moore's out. And, when you base the season from April-October, Samardzija was the Giants most consistent starter from start to finish last season. And no, I'm not saying he was necessarily great, but he was consistently pretty decent and pitched like a #3/#4 starter should. Not to mention the dude is good for about 200+ innings a year so they'd better have a good plan in place if they dealt him. Without "Shark" you'd be looking at MadBum, Cueto and a bunch of uncertainties. Sure Stratton showed glimpses last year, but Blach showed the same glimpses the year before and was very mediocre throughout 2017. I'm Ok with giving the fifth spot to Stratton/Blach/Beede or whoever claims it, but these aren't guys, at least at this point, who should be anything higher than 5th starters.

    I was OK with the Moore deal because he just wasn't that good with the Giants for the most part, aside from a handful of beautiful games down the stretch in '16.

  • At 4:19 AM, Blogger Mike Mooney said…

    If they could somehow shed Samardzija AND Pence salaries there's 32M created - sign Arrieta!

  • At 11:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    LOL Longoria looks like Brian Wilson in that Giants hat and beard... I hope like heck he turns in at least a few good seasons. I think he can, but I don't think he's going to be the difference maker alone... WE NEED MARTINEZ/MCCUTCHEN!!!!

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