Surrender to the Dodgers? The San Francisco Giants will have none of that.
The Giants finished in last place in the National League West last season, 40 games behind the Dodgers. But they doubled down on their win-now philosophy on Wednesday, acquiring three-time all-star third baseman Evan Longoria from the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Giants ranked last in the major leagues in home runs last season. None of their players hit even 20 home runs. They had a trade in place for NL most valuable player Giancarlo Stanton, but Stanton used his no-trade clause to veto the deal and ultimately agreed to a trade to the New York Yankees.
Longoria, 32, batted .261 with 20 home runs for the Rays last season. He rated as a league-average batter — the first time in his 10-year career he did not rank as above average — and he has five years and $86 million left on his contract. The Rays reportedly have agreed to help pay part of that sum.
The Rays also agreed to acquire outfielder Denard Span, 33, who has one year and $13 million left on his contract. Span grew up in Tampa. The Rays also acquired two minor league pitchers and 22-year-old infielder Christian Arroyo, who ranked as the Giants’ top prospect among position players entering last season.
The Giants’ third basemen had a .568 OPS last season, the worst figure at any position in either league (pitchers excluded). Arroyo made his major league debut there and batted .192 in 34 games. The Giants finished the season with Pablo Sandoval at third base; he batted .225 in 47 games.
The Giants still need help in the outfield, but whether they can reclaim their status as an NL West power depends largely on their pitching.
The Giants are built on a foundation of starting pitching, with Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija counted on to pitch 200 innings each and pitch them well. Of the six pitchers who threw more than 100 innings last season, only Bumgarner ranked above league average, and he was limited to 17 games because of injury.
The NL West now has four of the top 15 third basemen, based on last season’s Fangraphs WAR rankings: Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies (4), Justin Turner of the Dodgers (5), Jake Lamb of the Arizona Diamondbacks (14) and Longoria (15).
Mike Moustakas, the unsigned free agent who has lost potential fits in Anaheim (Zack Cozart) and now San Francisco, ranked 16th on that list.
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