It wasn’t Giancarlo Stanton, but the San Francisco Giants finally got something done. After a quiet first month and a half of the MLB off-season and a disappointing Winter Meetings last week in Orlando, the Giants acquired veteran third baseman Evan Longoria from the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for top prospect Christian Arroyo, aging center fielder Denard Span, and farmhands Stephen Woods and Matt Krook.
Evan Longoria Trade a Good Start, But Shouldn’t Be the End for Retooling Giants
At first glance, the trade looks good for the Giants. Although Arroyo does have potential, he has yet to showcase it at the MLB level despite receiving an extended opportunity last season. Longoria’s resume speaks for itself, and his bat will make an immediate impact in the meat of the Giants order. Although the 32-year-old is getting up there in age, ‘Longo’ should have at least a few more productive seasons left in him. Meanwhile, San Francisco was also able to offload Span’s contract which will create payroll flexibility much like the Matt Moore trade with the Texas Rangers late last week.
But if the Giants are serious about engineering a turnaround in 2018, Longoria can’t be their only marquee off-season addition. President Brian Sabean and GM Bobby Evans must remain aggressive in their pursuit of other impact players available via trade or free agency in order to rectify last season’s 98-loss campaign.
The Giants heavy involvement in trade talks at the 2017 Winter Meetings would suggest that to be the case. Despite coming home empty handed, it is safe to rule out that Sabean and Evans spent the four days at Disney World riding Splash Mountain. Clearly, the fact that they were unable to get anything done in Orlando wasn’t for a lack of trying, but rather a culmination of factors that prevented any deals from materializing. One of those factors was completely out of their control, with Stanton reportedly refusing to waive his no trade clause for the Giants. The other is the patience of the Giants brass, who have shown in the past that they are not the type to be pressured into making rash moves.
That patience paid off in the Longoria trade, which landed the Giants a proven All-Star caliber bat without having to surrender a king’s ransom. The task for Sabean and Evans for the remainder of the winter will be to find another deal or two like this one.
Although the addition of Longoria adds some pop to the middle of the order, the Giants are still lacking a legitimate top-of-the-order speed threat in center field, while another power bat at one of the corner outfield spots would also be high up on their wish list. The Giants have more than enough contact hitters and good defensive players on the big league roster, but speed and power are the two elements that were clearly missing a season ago.
Giants Failed Pursuit of Stanton could be a Blessing in Disguise
The Giants courting of Stanton sounded like it was among the most serious of all the teams interested, reportedly agreeing to a framework of a trade with the Miami Marlins involving four of their top prospects in Arroyo, Chris Shaw, Tyler Beede, and Heliot Ramos. But Stanton was always going to have the final say in the matter, and he ultimately felt that the Giants weren’t close enough to contending to waive his no trade clause. Or maybe he didn’t want to hit at AT&T Park 81 times a year and watch his should-be home run balls die on the warning track. Either way, Stanton opted for a trade to the New York Yankees – where should-be fly balls are turned into home runs – and will likely be there for the remaining 10 years of his mega-deal.
It goes without saying that 59 home runs would have greatly helped the Giants cause in the immediate future, but losing out on Stanton also has its benefits. For one, the Giants are not going to be tied down by having to carry Stanton’s contract on their books for the next decade. Meanwhile, keeping their blue chip prospects will be beneficial three or four years from now, when Stanton’s bat begins to regress. Should Shaw, Beede, and Ramos pan out, the Giants will be in a much better position for long term success than they would with an aging Stanton.
Moreover, those prospects could also be used to land one or two other pieces that can add more speed and power to the Giants outfield, as opposed to the one big fish in Stanton. This is the more likely option for the Giants to pursue over the rest of the winter, as they attempt to retool and strengthen their big league roster.
In part two, we examine a handful of alternatives the Giants can explore over the next few months which meet that criteria.
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