Free agency is officially underway. Before the offseason began, the SF Giants had to address a number of roster topics including a $13 million team option for third baseman Evan Longoria. On Thursday, the Giants announced that they were not picking up Longoria's option for 2023.
SF Giants decline to exercise 2023 option on veteran third baseman
Longoria will receive a $5 million buyout instead and he becomes a free agent for the first time in his 15-year career. The 37-year-old came over to San Francisco after the 2017 season fom the Tampa Bay Rays for a package that included Denard Span, Christian Arroyo, Matt Krook, and Stephen Woods.
The Rays were motivated to deal one of the great players in their franchise history just before he achieved 10-and-5 rights, which would have allowed him to veto any trade. Of course, the Giants were motivated to add an impact player after posting a dismal 64-98 season in the prior year.
Unfortunately, Longoria's tenure was checked with injuries. In fairness, some of the injuries were of the freak variety, but the incredible durability he displayed with Tampa Bay quickly disappeared with the Giants. The longtime third baseman never appeared in over 130 games in his five seasons with San Francisco and failed to reach 100 games in each of the last two seasons.
When he was healthy, Longoria proved to still be a decent contributor. In 2022, the right-handed bat slashed .244/.315/.451 (114 OPS+) with 14 home runs, 42 RBI, and 31 runs in 298 plate appearances. This included a 9.1 percent walk rate against a 27.9 percent strikeout rate.
Farhan Zaidi took over as president of baseball operations in November of 2018 and one of the key tenets of his tenure has been making good swing decisions. Longoria had a track record for being aggressive at the plate, but it felt like he bought into the new front office's approach as he registered a 108 OPS+ in his final four seasons with the Giants.
The Giants have expressed some level of interest in retaining the right-handed bat. That said, it feels like the front office will have a relatively low ceiling for what it is willing to offer Longoria in terms of guaranteed money.
The right-handed bat would like to return, but he has mentioned the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Rays as two other potential suitors. He still does damage against left-handed pitcher and plays a competent third base, so he can still contribute. However, Longoria may only see a limited market if he plans to play in 2023.