The Major League Baseball trade and free agent markets have been “quiet as a mouse” over the Christmas holiday, with nothing new to report…yet. In the meantime, let’s look at one trade that transpired just prior to the holidays, Evan Longoria to the San Francisco Giants from the Tampa Bay Rays.
This trade is a sign that the Rays are conceding the 2018 season while their ownership continues fishing for a new stadium. Longoria’s contract runs through 2022, so the Rays have basically dumped his salary before Longoria gained the ability to block any trade. In return, the Rays received one certified prospect, infielder Christian Arroyo, along with Denard Span and two “lottery ticket” pitchers, LHP Matt Krook and RHP Stephen Woods.
From a pure Fantasy perspective, Longoria’s move to the Giants doesn’t do much to change his overall value. He’s entering his age-32 season in 2018 and he appears to have passed his peak production years. His main calling card is durability, as he’s averaged 160 games played over the past five seasons along with 26 HRs, 87 RBIs and 80 runs scored. If anything, he may see a slight decline in overall production, as the Giants’ lineup produced just 639 runs compared to 694 for the Rays in 2017.
Making his home in AT&T Park may not do much for Longoria’s power numbers either. According to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, AT&T Park averaged 1.46 home runs per game, by far the lowest total in MLB. However, an overlay of Longoria’s 20 HRs in 2017 showed that all but three of his home runs would have cleared the AT&T Park fences.
Of course, if he continues to decline as a hitter, there will be far fewer deep balls anyway. Using wOBA, which takes into account the type of hit a batter gets to reach base, Longoria’s .312 wOBA in 2017 was the lowest of his career to date in MLB. As a Fantasy commodity, Longoria is probably best described as an average third baseman going forward.
On the Rays’ end, Christian Arroyo is the prize catch of the deal. However, he profiles as a good average hitter with very little pop in his bat. Arroyo spent some time with the Giants during 2017 and looked overmatched at the plate, batting .192/.244/.304 over 135 PA. He will likely get more time in the minors to develop his swing before he ever sets foot in Tropicana Field with the Rays.
Denard Span will likely end up as part of an already crowded Rays outfield along with Kevin Kiermaier, Corey Dickerson, Stephen Souza and Mallex Smith. If Span gets regular playing time, he will likely bat at or near the top of the order, so he may be a decent source of runs. However, considering the seasons that Kiermaier, Souza and Dickerson put up, Span will need an injury to one or more players to get those regular at bats.
Neither of the two pitchers projects to be in the rotation someday soon , as both have a way to go with their development to say that for certain. Both Krook and Woods have decent stuff but struggle with their command and control. Both have very high walk rates and are pitching in the low minors, so it will be several years before either pitcher reaches the Majors, assuming they get there at all.