Christian Arroyo

Down on the Farm: Checking in on former Giants top prospect Christian Arroyo

Down on the Farm: Checking in on former Giants top prospect Christian Arroyo

The Giants refused to rebuild this past offseason after finishing 2017 with the second-worst record in baseball. Brian Sabean, Bobby Evans and the rest of the front office stared at this team's window of opportunity and stayed in win-now mode, using the classic line of a "reload" over a rebuild. 

Shooting for the San Francisco stars, the team went all in on Giancarlo Stanton, before the now-Yankee turned them down, and traded off top prospects for former stars Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria. Through the team's first 69 games, the two have looked exactly as described -- former stars. McCutchen has come on strong lately, hitting two two-run home runs in the last two games. He's batting .356 with four home runs over a 10-game stretch and is up to .267 with eight home runs on the year. The former MVP may be finding his stride as he figures out the NL West. 

Longoria on the other hand, hasn't found much success in his first season with San Francisco. At the time of fracturing his left hand Thursday in Miami, Longoria was slashing .246/.278/.434. The positive is Longoria's 10 home runs rank second on the Giants and he leads the team with 34 RBI, but he simply hasn't been consistent and isn't getting on base enough.

In 2017, Longoria finished with a career-low .313 on-base percentage and he's 35 points lower this year as he has 10 walks to 57 strikeouts. And the three-time Gold Glove third baseman has committed 11 errors in 66 games, three off his career-high for a season. 

The Giants had to part ways with former top prospect Christian Arroyo to acquire Longoria in the offseason. At just 21 years old last year, Arroyo's bat was too good to keep in Triple-A. After 16 games with Sacramento, the team's top hitting prospect was batting .446 and was called up to San Francisco. In 34 games, Arroyo proved to be a pup with the big dogs in the majors. He hit .192 with three home runs and 32 strikeouts in 34 games with the Giants. But with the Rays, Arroyo's second crack at the majors looks much dfferent in Year 2 compared to Year 1. 

Arroyo's season was cut short in 2017 with a fractured wrist. He started the season in Triple-A Durham this year and was quickly put on the shelf again, this time with a calf injury. Overcoming his wrsit injury, Arroyo's start to the season in Triple-A was the complete opposite this year than last. When the Rays called up Arroyo from Durham, he was batting .200 in 17 games with a .235 on-base percentage and .308 slugging percentage, not exactly major-league-ready numbers. And then, Arroyo replaced old friend Matt Duffy in his Rays debut and laced two singles. 

The recently turned 23-year-old has now played in 19 games, 18 starts, with the Rays. Drafted as a shortstop, Arroyo has played eight games at second base, six at third base and was the DH in two. He finds himself in an infield logjam, but Tampa Bay is in a youth movement and will be sellers before the trade deadline. Arroyo started off hot for the Rays and is now slashing .280/.357/.420 with one home run. 

Offensively, Arroyo is showing maturity with six walks, two less than his eight in 34 games with the Giants, and is barreling the ball with hard contact. Arroyo's average exit velocity is up from 87.4 mph with the Giants to 91.8 mph with the Rays. Longoria has a 90.0 average exit velocity this season. While he will never be a huge home run threat, the stocky-built Arroyo finds the barrel consistently and should at least find gap-to-gap power. 

In an attempt to make another run at October in 2018, there's no denying San Francisco's move to add the 32-year-old Longoria, who is signed through 2022 with a team option for 2023. At the same time, Arroyo, 23, is showing the versatility around the infield and growth with his bat that had Giants fan frothing in the past thinking about his future.

Wotus' take on trade for Longoria: 'When you're trying to win the division...'

Wotus' take on trade for Longoria: 'When you're trying to win the division...'

While the Giants are still looking for outfield help as spring training creeps up on us, they checked one off their to-do list with the acquisition of third baseman Evan Longoria in late December. 

"Getting Longo at third base is a huge hole for us that we needed to fill," Giants third base coach Ron Wotus said to Friday on MLB Network Radio

In trading for Longoria, the Giants had to give up one of their top prospects. Christian Arroyo, who made his MLB debut at just 21 years old this past season, hit .396 in 25 Triple-A games for the Sacramento River Cats. He struggled at the big league level, batting .192 in 34 games. 

"We had Arroyo, the kid, but when you're trying to win the division and compete with the Dodgers and now Arizona's much better, Colorado's much better, we got a sure All-Star caliber player there," Wotus said on the trade.

The Dodgers won the National League West in 2017 and the D'backs and Rockies squared off in the wild card game. Over in Tampa Bay, the Rays missed the playoffs while Longoria posted his worst offensive season in years. 

Longoria, 32, hit .261, his lowest batting average since 2014, with 20 home runs, his lowest since 2012. Still, 20 home runs would have led the Giants in 2017 and they believe he's a much needed power boost to the lineup. 

"We filled one of our needs. I think his leadership and experience in being able to hit in the middle of the order -- he's done that his whole life -- is really gonna benefit for us," Wotus said. 

As Wotus showed excitement in the Longoria addition, he recognized the team needs to keep adding to their roster after a 98-loss season. 

"It's a great addition... but we still have more work to do," Wotus said to finish his interview. 

Christian Arroyo pens 'bittersweet' message after being traded by Giants

Christian Arroyo pens 'bittersweet' message after being traded by Giants

It took Christian Arroyo a few hours, but he finally reacted to the trade that sent him from the Giants to the Rays.

A little after 6pm PT, Arroyo posted a message on Twitter.

"Bittersweet. Best way to describe this feeling right now. Being traded from the team that drafted you, developed you, and then gave you a chance to make your dreams come true is special. To the front office, my teammates, and the fans of the San Francisco Giants I would like to say from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for everything. San Francisco will always hold a special place in my heart. I am very excited for the opportunity to continue my playing career with the team I grew up watching and cheering for, the Tampa Bay Rays. Looking forward to next season, can't wait until spring training!!"

Arroyo was the marquee player traded by the Giants to the Rays for third baseman Evan Longoria on Wednesday morning. Veteran outfielder Denard Span and minor league pitchers Stephen Woods and Matt Krook are the other players headed to Tampa.

Drafted in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft, Arroyo made his major league debut this past season. In 34 games, he hit .192/.244/.304 with five doubles, three home runs and 14 RBI. After being sent back to Triple-A Sacramento, his season ended early when he was hit by a pitch on the hand.