The San Francisco Giants should capitalize on the Josh Donaldson bidding war, and offer Evan Longoria as a cheaper alternative to teams worried about cash.
As the Josh Donaldson market continues to unfold, the San Francisco Giants have a chance to be actively involved, not as buyers, but as opportunists.
Veteran third baseman Evan Longoria is a contract they should be looking to get off their books, and the runner-up for Josh Donaldson’s services could be forced to turn their attention to the trade market.
While it has not proven as costly as the Andrew McCutchen trade that cost the Giants outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds, the Longoria deal stands as another ill-advised move by Bobby Evans to acquire a past-his-prime star and put the Giants in a world of hurt financially.
Team president Farhan Zaidi has been working his trade magic since he joined the franchise, offloading terrible contracts and mid-level relievers while quickly boosting the talent depth in the farm system. If 2020 is supposed to be a rebuilding year, then Longoria’s contract should be a top priority to remove from the books.
Enter whoever is the runner-up for Donaldson.
The St. Louis Cardinals seem preoccupied with landing Nolan Arenado. More power to them. They would add another player who terrorized the NL West, making things much easier for the Los Angeles Dodgers, or Arizona Diamondbacks, or San Diego Padres, or San Francisco Giants in what will seem like a wide-open NL West.
However, the price is going to be very steep and I’m not convinced the Cardinals have the prospect cache to land Arenado.
The Twins do have the prospect capital, but why would they give it up? They’re dirt cheap at the moment and would be losing a part of what they’re hoping becomes their young core for the future. So, they turn to the free-agent market.
Per Dan Hayes of The Athletic, the Twins offered a four-year contract to Donaldson, which he turned down.
There is obvious interest on the Twins part in adding a third baseman, and it doesn’t seem like they’re afraid to splash some cash. Longoria has $44 million remaining on his contract which officially runs through 2022. There is also a 2023 option for $13 million that has a $5 million buyout.
The Giants could throw $10 million toward Longoria’s contract, which brings down his luxury tax number to an $11.3 million AAV for the Twins.
That’s pretty doable compared to what it will cost to sign Donaldson.
If you’re the Twins, would you rather be on the hook for $110 million on a five-year deal, which is the reported asking price for Donaldson, or a max of $49 million over the next three years?
Donaldson is the better overall player, but Longoria might prove to be the better value.
The report from Hayes mentioned that the Twins would move on if they found an alternative, and Longoria could be that guy.
The Twins would not have to pay a steep price to get a deal done, with the return package impacted by how much the Giants feel like paying toward his contract.
If the Giants were to take on the whole contract, which is extremely unlikely, the Twins would need to kick in a much better prospect. But by taking on $30 million or so of the contract, the Twins could probably escape relatively unscathed when it comes to their top 15 prospects.
So, let’s make a deal.
Outfielder Gilberto Celestino is a raw 20-year-old outfielder who offers plus defense, good speed, a decent hit tool and minimal power.
He currently ranks as the No. 20 prospect in the Minnesota system, according to MLB.com, after hitting .277/.349/.410 with 28 doubles, 10 home runs and 14 steals while reaching the High-A level.
Right-hander Chris Vallimont struck out 150 batters over 127.2 innings between Single-A and High-A last year, after going in the fifth round of the 2018 draft.
He was notably part of the package that sent Sergio Romo from Miami to Minnesota at the trade deadline last year and checks in as the team’s No. 29 prospect.
Neither of those prospects are players that Minnesota is going to kick themselves over losing. There are six pitchers above Vallimont in their system, while Celestino sits behind five other outfielders.
If the Giants wanted a better prospect back, they could certainly kick in some cash. But a deal like this rids them of their commitment to Longoria and allows them to fully dive in on the rebuild.
So who says no?