5 SF Giants ZIPS Takeaways:
#2 Evan Longoria (Negative)
I have been a strong believer in Evan Longoria all year. While his overall triple-slash was just .254/.297/.425, there was reason to believe he was suffering from bad luck amidst a breakout campaign. There is still reason to believe he could be in line for a bounceback in 2021, but ZIPS is not a believer. According to the projection, Longoria’s closest comp is Rich Aurilia, who never produced a league-average batting line in a season after he turned 35. Longoria is heading into his age-35 season.
Instead, ZIPS projects Longoria’s downward trajectory to continue. His defensive productivity would still carry him to a 1.2 WAR season, but a .247/.297/.396 triple-slash would rank among the worst in his career in each category, and easily be his worst overall line.
The Giants did sign infielder Jason Vosler this offseason to a major-league contract to give Longoria a potential platoon partner. However, aside from Vosler, there is no one else with a strong defensive background at third base. Shortstop Brandon Crawford would hypothetically have the skillset to make such a move, but barring a major acquisition, it seems unlikely that the Giants would want to take Mauricio Dubón away from centerfield to be the everyday shortstop.
If Longoria is unable to rekindle some of his earlier-career performances, it creates an obvious problem for the team. While veterans like Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, and Buster Posey are all free agents at the end of next season, Longoria’s contract runs through the 2022 season and has a team option for 2023. Team executives obviously will not complain, but if they were hoping for any aging vet to have a definitive resurgence in 2020, it probably would have been Longoria. Instead, it was Belt and Crawford.
Top prospects Marco Luciano, Luis Toribio, and Will Wilson could all become options at the hot corner down the road, but none of them have played a game of full-season ball. All are considered advanced players for their respective ages and participated in team activities at the alternate site and played in the instructional league, but it’s still a tall ask to even expect any of them to be ready by the start of 2022. All in all, if there’s one player Giants brass is hoping ZIPS is underestimating, it’s probably Longoria.