SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants traded their last everyday third baseman to Tampa Bay. Still looking to fill that Matt Duffy-sized hole, the team swung another deal with the Rays on Wednesday morning.
The Giants acquired All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria in exchange for Denard Span, Christian Arroyo and pitching prospects Matt Krook and Stephen Woods.
Longoria has been one of the more reliable third baseman in baseball for years, and he fills a couple of gaping holes, giving the a Gold Glove defender at the corner and a right-handed power bat to slide into the heart of a lineup that has too often leaned to the left in recent years. Longoria hit 20 homers last season and has done so every year since 2013. He has four 30-homer seasons since breaking into the big leagues in 2008, including 36 in 2016.
There are flaws, though. Longoria turned 32 in October and is guaranteed $86 million through 2022. Some of that will be offset by dealing Span and cash the Giants are getting back from the Rays, but while the Giants filled a hole on Wednesday, they certainly didn’t get any younger or solve their future payroll issues.
They also traded their best infield prospect in Arroyo, a 22-year-old Tampa native who gets to go home and try to recover from a rough debut season. Arroyo hit .192 after a hot start and had his year ended when he was hit by a pitch upon returning to Triple-A. The Giants long viewed him as next in line to the Crawford, Panik, Duffy generation, but they apparently didn’t feel they could wait for Arroyo to develop with this current core. Longoria fits the timetable perfectly.
Span also gets to go home, and he’ll spend the final season of his three-year deal with the Rays. The Giants originally tried to unload him in the Giancarlo Stanton deal so that they could stay under the luxury tax line. With Span gone, the Giants have lost their leadoff hitter, but they also have cleared a logjam in the outfield. Hunter Pence seems the likely choice to move to left field next season.