Amid the Diamondbacks’ horrible season first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is having another excellent year, batting .300 with 15 homers and a league-leading 28 doubles for a .921 OPS that nearly matches last year’s career-high of .952.
However, because the rest of the Diamondbacks’ lineup is so bad and their cleanup hitters in particular (mostly Miguel Montero and Martin Prado) have managed a measly .394 slugging percentage Goldschmidt is being pitched around more and more often.
Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic dug into the numbers after manager Kirk Gibson was pretty vocal suggesting Goldschmidt is seeing fewer crush-able pitches and sure enough pitchers have tossed him something in the strike zone just 32 percent of the time in the past two weeks, compared to 40 percent of the time previously.
Whenever a slugger gets pitched around much is made of the batter directly behind him in the lineup offering “protection.” And that can be true, but it’s generally less of a factor than conventional wisdom would suggest and perhaps the easiest way to ensure Goldschmidt will get more pitches to hit is to get more runners on base for his plate appearances. And so far this season Diamondbacks leadoff and No. 2 hitters have combined for a .314 on-base percentage.
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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.