Archive for Giants

Daily Prospect Notes: 7/11

Notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Andres Gimenez, SS, New York Mets (Profile)
Level: Hi-A   Age: 19   Org Rank: 3   FV: 50
Line: 3-for-5, 2B, 3B

Notes
Gimenez is a 19-year-old shortstop slashing .280/.350/.430 in the Florida State League. That’s good for a 107 wRC+ in the FSL. Big-league shortstops with similar wRC+ marks are Trea Turner (a more explosive player and rangier defender than Gimenez) and Jurickson Profar, who have both been two-win players or better this year ahead of the break. Also of note in the Mets system last night was Ronny Mauricio, who extended his career-opening hitting streak to 19 games.

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Daily Prospect Notes: 7/2

Notes on prospects from lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen. Read previous installments here.

Today is July 2, the first day of the new international signing period. Both our rankings and scouting reports on the top players signing today are available by means of this ominous portal.

Brailyn Marquez, LHP, Chicago Cubs (Profile)
Level: Short Season   Age: 19   Org Rank: 14  FV: 40
Line: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 1 R, 8 K

Notes
Marquez has a 20:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio at Eugene. I saw him up to 96 last year, but he was 88-93 in extended spring training, and his body had matured and gotten somewhat soft pretty quickly. It didn’t affect his advanced fastball command, though, or his arm-side command of his breaking ball, which comprise a large chunk of Marquez’s current plan on the mound. He projects as a No. 4/5 starter with several average pitches and above-average control.

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The Giants Remain Afloat in the NL West

Madison Bumgarner made his 2018 season debut on Tuesday night, and while the Giants lost to the D-backs, the return of the 28-year-old staff ace couldn’t have come at a much better time. The team’s rotation has been a mess due to injuries and underperformance, but a surprisingly resilient offense has kept them in the thick of what’s become a four-team NL West race.

Bumgarner, who was limited to 17 starts last year due to his infamous dirt-bike accident, suffered a fractured pinkie on his left (pitching) hand via a line drive off the bat of the Royals’ Whit Merrifield back on March 23. The injury required the insertion of three small pins that were removed four weeks later. He made just two rehab starts before returning to the Giants, so despite his strong performance, it wasn’t much of a surprise that he was pulled after six innings and 82 pitches with the Giants trailing, 2-1. Of the eight hits he allowed, six came in his first three innings, with back-to-back doubles by Ketel Marte and Chris Owings and a single by Kris Negron accounting for both Arizona runs in the second inning. Bumgarner needed a bit of help from his defense to escape a two-on, no-out mess in the third, with Brandon Crawford throwing out David Peralta at the plate and then Evan Longoria and Pablo Sandoval immediately following that with a 5-3 double play. Bumgarner didn’t walk anybody, generated 10 swing-and-misses (seven via his cutter), and all three of his strikeouts came in his final two innings of work.

Alas, Bumgarner pitched on a night when D-backs starter Patrick Corbin and company were just a bit better. The Giants’ 3-2 loss ended a five-game winning streak, but they rebounded on Wednesday for a come-from-behind, walk-off win. At 31-31, they’re just 1.5 games behind the D-backs and Rockies, who are tied for the division lead at 32-29. With the Dodgers struggling out of the gate, Arizona took a commanding lead in April, but its May slide and L.A.’s recent hot streak have helped to turn the NL West back into a race:

NL West Standings Through April 30
Team W L W-L% GB RS RA Pyth. W-L%
D-backs 20 8 .714 132 90 .668
Giants 15 14 .517 5.5 106 124 .429
Rockies 15 15 .500 6.0 115 140 .411
Dodgers 12 16 .429 8.0 133 124 .532
Padres 10 20 .333 11.0 119 155 .381
SOURCE: Baseball-Reference

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No Hitter Has Been More Patient Than Pablo Sandoval

Yesterday was a pretty good day for hitters on the comeback trail. Jason Heyward blasted a walk-off grand slam. Matt Kemp hit another home run. Ian Desmond hit another home run. Jurickson Profar hit another two home runs. And Pablo Sandoval hit his own home run. With the Giants, Sandoval’s been only a part-time player, but over 112 trips to the plate, he’s posted a 115 wRC+. He hasn’t finished as an above-average hitter since 2014.

Let’s take a closer look at Wednesday’s game. Sandoval homered in the bottom of the first. Before that, though, he took the first pitch from Clay Buchholz. In the third inning, he again took the first pitch from Buchholz. In the fifth inning, he again took the first pitch from Buchholz. In the eighth inning, he took the first pitch from Archie Bradley. In the tenth inning, he took the first pitch from Andrew Chafin. Stick with me here, because this is going to get weird. This is bigger than you could imagine.

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It’s Probably Time to Appreciate Brandon Belt

What does it mean to be “underrated?” The label suggests public perception is not in line with actual value, which for whatever reason is obscured. The term gets tossed around often and recklessly, like many labels. But in the case of Brandon Belt, there is some merit in making the claim.

Since the start of the 2015 season, Belt ranks 11th in the majors in walk rate (13.6%). He’s tied with Carlos Correa and Edwin Encarnacion for 17th in wRC+ (135). Over the last three-plus seasons, Belt also ranks 16th in on-base percentage (.375).

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The Rarest Sight in Baseball

On May 12th, in the first inning of the Cubs’ game against the White Sox, Jon Lester did something a little bit unusual: he swung at a 3-1 pitch. Now, if Jon Lester were not a pitcher, that wouldn’t be all that unusual. Since 2011, non-pitchers (another word you might use for these people is “hitters”) have swung at 3-1 pitches about 56% of the time — 55.9% of the time, to be precise. But Jon Lester is a pitcher, and he still swung at a 3-1 pitch. And the thing is, over the same time period — that is, from 2011 (when our data starts) to present — pitchers faced with 3-1 counts have swung at the next pitch just 38.3% of the time. Of those swings, just one in five was at a pitch outside the zone, like the fastball on the outside edge at which Lester swung and missed. It’s just not something you see that often.

That’s because, if you’re a pitcher, swinging at a 3-1 pitch is usually not a very good idea. If you swing at such a pitch, you might get a hit (pitchers did hit 27 home runs last year, after all!), but you might also put the ball in play and record an out. If you don’t swing on 3-1, you definitely won’t record an out. You might still get a strike called against you, which would put you that much closer to recording an out, but you might also walk or get hit by the pitch — and a walk or hit by pitch, for a lot of pitchers at the plate, is a very good outcome. Last year, pitchers took 5,277 plate appearances. They recorded outs in 4,522 of those plate appearances (85.7%). I think it’s fair to say pitchers are looking for any means to reach base available to them. Swinging at 3-1 pitches is not a good way to do that. And so, two-thirds of the time, pitchers don’t.

Everything I’ve just said applies doubly to 3-0 counts. Even regular hitters don’t swing at those pitches all that often — just 8.2% of the time since 2011, in fact. With two strikes still available, it just doesn’t make any sense not to give the pitcher a chance to walk you, and so upwards of nine times out of 10, hitters will let the pitcher prove he can find the zone on a 3-0 count. And when it’s a pitcher at the plate, the odds of a swing on 3-0 are even smaller. Vanishingly small, in fact. Thanks to a database query performed by my colleague Sean Dolinar, I’m able to report to you now that a pitcher swing on a 3-0 count has happened only seven times since 2011, or about once a season. Seven times, out of 578 opportunities. About 1 in every 100 times. Almost never. And — here’s the fun thing about this story, I think — six of those seven swings were taken by just two men, and all seven came in the span of just three seasons. Let’s investigate the history of this strange baseball phenomenon together, shall we? Come with me on a journey back to May 20th, 2014.

Whoops! I jumped ahead in the story a little bit. That there on your screen, right above this text, is Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants swinging at a 3-0 pitch in the fifth inning of a game against the Colorado Rockies. Now, Bumgarner can hit a little bit — at least as well as the worst big-league hitters can hit, that is. His career wRC+ is identical, for example, to Drew Butera’s. And he was behind in this game 1-0 in the fifth, with two runners on base and an out in the inning to spare. Perhaps he felt that his cause would be best served by a Very Large Home Run against Franklin Morales, who at this point in the game was pitching a gem (those of you who are familiar with the life and work of Franklin Morales may not be shocked to discover it did not end that way, though it wasn’t a terrible start, on the whole).

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Top 22 Prospects: San Francisco Giants

Below is an analysis of the prospects in the farm system of the San Francisco Giants. Scouting reports are compiled with information provided by industry sources as well as from our own (both Eric Longenhagen’s and Kiley McDaniel’s) observations. For more information on the 20-80 scouting scale by which all of our prospect content is governed you can click here. For further explanation of the merits and drawbacks of Future Value, read this.

All the numbered prospects here also appear on THE BOARD, a new feature at the site that offers sortable scouting information for every organization. Click here to visit THE BOARD.

Giants Top Prospects
Rk Name Age High Level Position ETA FV
1 Heliot Ramos 18 A CF 2023 50
2 Stephen Duggar 24 AAA CF 2018 45
3 Alexander Canario 17 R RF 2023 45
4 Tyler Beede 24 MLB RHP 2018 45
5 Garrett Williams 23 AA LHP 2019 45
6 Chris Shaw 24 AAA 1B 2018 45
7 Jacob Gonzalez 19 A 3B 2023 40
8 Andrew Suarez 25 MLB LHP 2018 40
9 D.J. Snelten 25 MLB LHP 2018 40
10 Aramis Garcia 25 AA C 2019 40
11 Sandro Fabian 20 A+ RF 2021 40
12 Gregory Santos 18 R RHP 2023 40
13 Austin Slater 25 MLB LF 2018 40
14 Tyler Herb 25 AAA RHP 2018 40
15 Shaun Anderson 23 AA RHP 2020 40
16 C.J. Hinojosa 23 AA 3B 2019 40
17 Reyes Moronta 25 MLB RHP 2018 40
18 Miguel Gomez 25 MLB 3B 2018 40
19 Kelvin Beltre 21 A 3B 2021 40
20 Camilo Doval 20 A RHP 2022 40
21 Melvin Adon 23 A+ RHP 2020 40
22 Logan Webb 21 A+ RHP 2020 40

50 FV Prospects

Drafted: 1st Round, 2017 from Leadership Christian (PR)
Age 17 Height 6’2 Weight 185 Bat/Throw R/R
Tool Grades (Present/Future)
Hit Raw Power Game Power Run Fielding Throw
20/40 60/70 30/60 60/60 40/55 60/60

Ramos is built like Yoan Moncada and comes with similar strengths and weaknesses. He runs very well, is likely to play in the middle of the diamond, has big raw power for his age, and his issues with strikeouts should give us pause about how much of these skills will actually play in games. Also like Moncada, Ramos’ swing has natural lift out in front of him, which gives him a good chance to hit for power when he does make contact.

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Mac Williamson Might Just Save the Giants

Some kind of cliff is almost certainly coming, but the Giants figure they could still have another run. For 2018 — and, right now, all that matters is 2018 — the Giants ought to be competitive. Far more competitive than they were last summer. You know the criticisms, though. The Giants are old. They might not have enough youth. And they also might not have enough power. That’s something they’ve worked to address, and their actual power is somewhat depressed by their own home ballpark, but recent Giants lineups haven’t instilled much fear. The club has been done no favors by Hunter Pence’s apparent decline.

Just the other day, 27-year-old righty Mac Williamson hit this home run.

On its own, that’s impressive. Righties don’t hit home runs to that area in San Francisco, particularly at night. But if you know anything about Williamson, you know he’s always had power. Every so often, Williamson would run into a ball and obliterate it. The issue, as it frequently is, was consistency. Williamson didn’t do that often enough. How many hitters do that often enough?

So let’s no longer look at this on its own. Since being recalled from the minors, Williamson has started five games. He homered in the first one. He homered in the fourth one. And he homered in the fifth one. Something might be brewing, here. Because Williamson isn’t just a player doing well. He’s a player doing well after overhauling the very core of his game.

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Not-So-Fresh Starts in San Francisco

In an offseason characterized by inactivity and a wariness to trust anybody over 30, the Giants made waves by trading for both Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, adding them to a lineup that last year already ranked as the NL’s oldest and least potent, even after park adjustment. So far, the gambit hasn’t paid off. On the heels of a forgettable 64-98 season, the team scoring a major-league-worst 2.88 runs per game has gone 6-10, scoring exactly one run in six of those games and being shut out three times. On Tuesday night, they were a measly Brandon Belt check swing against the shift away from being no-hit by the Diamondbacks’ Patrick Corbin. Though both Longoria and McCutchen have had their moments, neither has come anywhere close to living up to their billing.

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Jackie Robinson and the Integration Advantage

Sunday was Jackie Robinson Day around the majors, commemorating the anniversary — the 71st, this year — of the fall of baseball’s color line via Robinson’s debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers. But just as Robinson’s immeasurable courage in confronting racism and the immense talent he showed while playing at the highest level deserve more than a single day for paying tribute, so too is it worth remembering the black players who bravely followed in his footsteps and ensured that baseball’s great experiment would not be a one-off. In the two decades following Robinson’s arrival, the influx of talent, first from the Negro Leagues and then the sandlots and high schools whose players previously could not have dreamt of such an opportunity, radically transformed the National League, in particular.

Led by president and general manager Branch Rickey, the Dodgers, of course, got the jump. During Robinson’s major-league career, which lasted from 1947 to 1956, the Dodgers won six pennants as well as their lone Brooklyn-era championship in 1955. In addition to becoming a pioneer of tremendous importance, Jackie himself was the game’s third-most valuable player over that span according to WAR (57.2), behind only Stan Musial and Ted Williams. While the Dodgers had a great supporting cast of white players such as Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, and Duke Snider, those teams also got great work from two Negro Leagues graduates whom Rickey had signed before Robinson even reached the majors — namely Roy Campanella, who debuted in 1948 and went on to win three NL MVP awards, and Don Newcombe, who debuted in 1949, won Rookie of the Year honors that season, and would later win a Cy Young and an MVP award.

Though Rickey lost a power struggle to Walter O’Malley and was forced to sell his share of the team following the 1950 season, the Dodgers furthered their dominance over the NL in part by continuing to sign talented black players. Under Buzzie Bavasi as general manager and Fresco Thompson as director of minor-league operations, the organization added right-hander Joe Black (1952 NL Rookie of the Year), infielder Jim Gilliam (1953 NL Rookie of the Year), outfielder Sandy Amoros, second baseman Charlie Neal, catcher John Roseboro, shortstop Maury Wills (1962 NL MVP), and outfielders Tommy Davis and Willie Davis (no relation), among others.

Amoros, Black, and Gilliam would augment the Dodgers’ Robinson-era core, and the latter remained a vital lineup cog through the transitional phase that included the franchise’s 1957 move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and their return to powerhouse status behind the one-two pitching punch of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. Neal, Roseboro, and Wills would each spend at least half a decade in the minors and/or as understudies awaiting their shots before contributing to the team’s 1959 pennant and championship, with the latter two becoming more central alongside the two Davises as the team won championships in 1963 and 1965, and added one more pennant in 1966, Koufax’s final year. Tommy Davis, a left fielder, won back-to-back NL batting titles in 1962 and -63, while Willie Davis, a center fielder, was the position’s best defender this side of Willie Mays (his three errors in Game Two of the 1966 World Series to the contrary).

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The Giants Really Didn’t Need a Madison Bumgarner Injury

A quick glance at the contract situation for the best players on the San Francisco Giants might make it appear as though the club is set up for the long haul. Of the Giants’ eight best players by projection this season, seven are locked up through at least 2020, with the eighth signed for two more seasons. Every single player expected to make a significant contribution is signed or under team control for at least two seasons, with Andrew McCutchen representing the only notable exception.

What that quick glance at the Giants’ contract situations might miss, however, is the ages of all of those contributors. With a veteran core, the Giants are very much in win-now mode and losing Madison Bumgarner — who likely won’t return until June after breaking his pinky finger — deals the team a big blow in what might be the team’s last best chance at another playoff run.

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Effectively Wild Episode 1189: Season Preview Series: Giants and Athletics

EWFI

On a Bay Area edition of EW’s season-preview series, Ben Lindbergh and Jeff Sullivan banter about the resolution of their free-agent-contracts draft, the Lance Lynn, Neil Walker, and Jake Arrieta signings, the offseason market in review, and a Stephen Hawking baseball connection, then preview the 2018 Giants (32:07) with SB Nation’s Grant Brisbee, and the 2018 Athletics (1:07:20) with the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser.

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The Giants Should Stop Prioritizing Outfield Help

The Giants have been one of the busier teams this offseason, wheeling and dealing their way to a markedly different roster in just a few months. Since December 15th alone, the club has traded away left-hander Matt Moore, a general disappointment in the 240 innings he had thrown for the Giants. They followed this up by acquiring two faces of their former franchises: Moore’s one-time Tampa Bay teammate Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen. The most recent deal has the Giants signing Austin Jackson for two years and $6 million to round out their starting outfield.

Or so it seemed.

Giants president of baseball operations Brian Sabean seemed to suggest otherwise recently, according to reports by Alex Pavlovic and John Shea.

“He’s certainly a viable option,” Sabean said of Jackson. “Did we get him to be our everyday center fielder? Probably not. I don’t know that in his recent history, he’s been able to go out there in that fashion.”

Sabean might not be wrong about Jackson. Even though he was an effective player from 2010 to -15, he turns 31 in a week and hit the disabled list twice last season. Jackson might be best relied on as a part-time player, albeit a very good one.

So were does that leave the Giants? They seem to be keeping an eye on the market for outfielders, probably with a view towards acquiring a cheap option somewhere along the line. This search, combined with their financial position, seems to leave the team focused on a particular goal in mind, one that fails to address one of their most glaring needs.

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KATOH Projects Pittsburgh’s Return for Andrew McCutchen

The Giants have acquired outfielder Andrew McCutchen in exchange for Kyle Crick and Bryan Reynolds. Below are the KATOH projections for Pittsburgh’s newest prospects.

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Giants Add Another Face of Another Franchise

Earlier in the offseason, the Giants came ever so close to trading for Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton has been one of the most important players in the Marlins’ admittedly limited history, but all that got in the way was a well-earned no-trade clause. Which is what ultimately took Stanton to the Yankees, instead of the Giants or the Cardinals.

Shortly after that all went down, the Giants traded for Evan Longoria. Longoria has been the most important player in the Rays’ admittedly limited history, but, well, the Rays are the Rays, and Longoria is both increasingly old and increasingly expensive. The commitment meant that Longoria had to go, and the Giants were there to welcome him with open arms.

And now the Giants have traded for Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen has been one of the most important players in the Pirates’ far less limited history, one of the keys to the franchise’s recent return to relevance, but where Longoria’s deal was too big for a smaller-market operation, McCutchen’s was too small. With just one year left, McCutchen all but forced the Pirates’ hand, and the Giants, again, were there. The agreement, as it is:

Giants get

Pirates get

For the third time, the Giants targeted the face of another ballclub. For the third time, they reached an agreement. For the second time, a move has been actually made. Because of who McCutchen is and has been, this is an impact transaction, one that’s sure to have widespread consequences. The reality of trading or trading for McCutchen is complex. It’s also quite simple. The Pirates aren’t good enough to keep a 31-year-old staring ahead to free agency. And the Giants are trying to return to the playoffs before the inevitable reckoning. McCutchen gives them something they just didn’t have.

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2018 ZiPS Projections – San Francisco Giants

After having typically appeared in the hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have now been released at FanGraphs for half a decade. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the San Francisco Giants. Szymborski can be found at ESPN and on Twitter at @DSzymborski.

Batters
“Baseball’s biggest disappointment,” is how Jeff Sullivan characterized the 2017 Giants back at the end of September. And not without reason: the club produced the league’s worst record relative to the preseason projections, a development expressed in graphic form just below.

On the one hand, that’s bad for the 2017 Giants. On the other, though, it’s probably good for the 2018 version of the club. The Giants are likely due — due perhaps more than any other team — for positive regression. Even if San Francisco were to field precisely the same roster this next season, that same precise roster would almost certainly outperform its disappointing predecessor.

The ZiPS projections appear to support this hypothesis. Here, for example, are the forecasts for San Francisco’s top-four returning hitters:

Positive Regression for Top Giants Hitters
Player 2017 PA 2017 WAR 2018 zPA 2018 zWAR PA Diff WAR Diff
Buster Posey 568 4.3 534 4.9 -34 0.6
Brandon Crawford 570 2.0 567 3.5 -3 1.5
Brandon Belt 451 2.3 503 3.3 52 1.0
Joe Panik 573 2.0 571 3.0 -2 1.0
Average 541 2.7 544 3.7 3 1.0
Headings marked with -z- represent ZiPS projections for 2018.

The core returning members of the Giants’ offense — Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, and Buster Posey — are projected, on average, to produce an additional win each in 2018. That’s in roughly the same number of plate appearances as 2017, as well, meaning that ZiPS is calling for all four simply to play better this season.

This isn’t to say the club’s field-playing cohort is without flaw. No outfielder, for example, is projected even to produce an average season. Nevertheless, a combination of positive regression and Evan Longoria (645 PA, 3.1 zWAR) ought to facilitate easy improvement over last year’s performance.

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Sergio Romo on His Bowling-Ball… Slider

Late in the 2017 season, I approached Sergio Romo to ask about backup sliders. More specifically, I wanted to know if he’s ever thrown one intentionally. A handful of pitchers to whom I’ve spoken have experimented with doing so. It can be an effective pitch when well located; hitters recognize and react to a slider, only to have it break differently than a slider. As a result, they either jam themselves or are frozen.

Romo, of course, has one of the best sliders in the game. The 34-year-old right-hander has lived and died with the pitch for 10 big-league seasons, throwing his signature offering 52.4% of the time. Among relievers with at least 250 innings, only Carlos Marmol (55.5%) and Luke Gregerson (52.7%) have thrown a slider more frequently over that span.

What I anticipated being a short conversation on a narrow subject turned into wider-ranging, and often entertaining, meditation on his slider (with a look at Zach Britton’s sinker thrown in for good measure). It turns out that Romo’s backups are all accidental — the exact mechanics behind them remain a mystery to him — but he does know how to manipulate the ones that break. He’s also knowledgeable about his spin rate, thanks to his “player-profile thingy.”

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Projecting the Prospects in the Evan Longoria Trade

The Giants have acquired Evan Longoria from the Rays in exchange for major leaguer Denard Span, plus prospects Christian Arroyo, Matt Krook, and Stephen Woods.

Below are the KATOH projections for the prospects received by Tampa Bay. WAR figures account for each player’s first six major-league seasons. KATOH denotes the stats-only version of the projection system, while KATOH+ denotes the methodology that includes a player’s prospect rankings. In total, my KATOH system projects these prospects for a combined 2.4 WAR (2.2 by KATOH+) over their first six years in the majors.

*****

Christian Arroyo, IF (Profile)
KATOH: 1.5 WAR
KATOH+: 1.8 WAR

Arroyo missed a large chunk of 2017 due to multiple hand injuries and hit just .192/.244/.304 in 34 games with the Giants. Even without accounting for his small-sample big-league struggles, though, Arroyo’s track record doesn’t portend particularly great things. He hit a punchless .274/.316/.373 at Double-A in 2016 and his small-sample success at Triple-A last year was largely aided by his .427 BABIP. Arroyo’s youth and contact skills make him interesting, but he has very little power or speed and has already more or less moved off of shortstop.

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Giants Trade for Evan Longoria’s Mid-30s

I’m not sure a team has ever telegraphed its intent to make a splash more than the Giants. The Giants were one of the finalists for Shohei Ohtani. They were, of course, disappointed to not get him. They were also one of the finalists for Giancarlo Stanton, before Stanton invoked his no-trade clause. The Giants and Marlins had otherwise worked out an agreement. Turned down by their top two options, the Giants kept on exploring the market, looking to make an impact move. Such a move is now official. The Giants have made a big trade with the Rays.

Giants get

Rays get

Longoria used to have, for several years, more trade value than almost anyone else. It was almost impossible to imagine the Rays letting him go. But now the best player in Rays history is on the move, because, ultimately, the Rays have to act like the Rays have to act, and Longoria isn’t what he was when he was younger. Rays fans will get to remember his 20s. Giants fans will get to look ahead to his 30s. The Giants have gotten better for today, but the future of the club now looks even more challenging.

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Giants Find a Third Baseman in Evan Longoria

The Giants had a hole at third base. The Rays are cutting payroll and looking to the future, again. So today, they struck a deal.

Longoria has $86 million left over the remaining five years of his contract, so Span’s inclusion is a salary offset in order to help the team stay under the CBT threshold. The Rays are also sending an undisclosed amount of cash in the deal, so we’re exactly sure how much of that $86 million the Giants are picking up.

Longoria is still a nice player, projected for +3 WAR in 2018, but I do wonder if the Giants should have just signed Todd Frazier instead. For comparison, here are their numbers over the last three years.

Third Base Comparison
Name PA AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ BsR Off Def WAR
Evan Longoria 2032 0.268 0.320 0.461 0.330 109 3.2 25.0 13.9 11.1
Todd Frazier 1920 0.233 0.317 0.466 0.334 110 -1.8 20.1 13.7 10.0

Both the crowd and I thought Frazier would sign for 3/$42M, or roughly half of what Longoria is still owed. Signing Frazier wouldn’t have cleared Span’s money off the books, of course, but they probably could have gotten a comparable player for a less significant financial commitment without surrendering with any real talent.

Of course, neither of the pitchers in this deal look like much, and Christian Arroyo has always struck me as wildly overrated, so I don’t think the Giants gave up tons of long-term value here. But given that they aren’t that close to contention, I’m not sure Longoria moves the needle enough to justify taking on this kind of money. Even with Longoria, the Giants still aren’t very good, and now they have even less money to spend to fix their dreadful outfield.