As I sit here today I will still be rather surprised if the Giants don’t send first base prospect Brandon Belt down to Fresno to start the year, but that hasn’t stopped the Bay Area press from beating the drum for Belt. Here’s the Chronicle: “After Brandon Belt’s big day, where does he start?” Here’s the Merc: “Belt’s bat making a convincing argument.”
The Giants have Aubrey Huff on a new contract at first and veteran Pat Burrell in left field. For Belt to make the team, then, it requires either benching one of them or making Belt a backup, and neither of those seem likely at the moment. Add in the whole service time thing — keeping Belt down a couple of months could by the Giants another year of control — and the fact that even Buster Posey couldn’t break camp with the team when he was being blocked by lesser players, and you get the sense that it isn’t in the cards.
But boy howdy, if Pat Burrell doesn’t hit coming out of the gate …
Bob Nightengale of USA Today says that the San Francisco Giants “have keen interest” in Rays third baseman Evan Longoria.
Longoria is coming off his worst season as a major leaguer, having hit .261/.313/.424 with 20 homers in 2017. He’s also still owed $86 million through 2022. Which, back when the deal was signed seemed like quite a bargain for the Rays — and likely has been over the duration of the contract — but now seems somewhat steep for the 32 year-old third baseman. That said, the Giants currently have Pablo Sandoval penciled in at third base on their depth chart, so Longoria would definitely be an upgrade, even if 2017’s dip wasn’t just a blip.
Nightengale says that for the Giants to take on Longoria, the Rays would have to take on a high salary veteran such as Denard Span or Hunter Pence. Span is owed $9 million in 2018, with a $4 million buyout on a $12 million option for 2019. Pence is owed $18.5 million in 2018 in the final year of his contract and has a full no-trade clause.
If he stays with the Rays, Longoria will achieve 10-5 rights — full no-trade protection due to being a ten-year veteran with five years of service on the same club — so if the Rays are going to move him, it’ll be much easier this offseason, not once the 2018 season begins.