Yesterday the Rangers made their one-year deal with A.J. Pierzynski official, adding the veteran catcher to the lineup following his career-year for the White Sox, but general manager Jon Daniels also said that he’s still searching for another hitter after losing Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli to free agency.
“We’re looking at that now,” Daniels said, via Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas. “There’s a decent chance we’ll look to add somebody.”
Daniels went on to say that “somebody” could come via free agency or trade, so it’s tough to narrow down likely targets. However, just in terms of available free agent hitters the pickings are getting very slim.
Our own Matthew Pouliot has been updating his “Free Agency Tracker” and the top remaining position players are center fielder Michael Bourn, first baseman Adam LaRoche, left fielder Delmon Young, first baseman Lance Berkman, second baseman Kelly Johnson, left fielder Scott Hairston, and first baseman Luke Scott.
Bourn and LaRoche would both cost the Rangers a draft pick and none of those other names are particularly appealing. Napoli is also technically unsigned, but even if his three-year, $39 million deal with the Red Sox falls through a return to Texas seems awfully unlikely.
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.