Tampa Bay traded Evan Longoria to the Giants on Wednesday for Christian Arroyo, Denard Span, Matt Krook and Stephen Woods. The move upgrades the Giants’ third base position while muddling up the Rays’ infield depth chart.
For Longoria, his fantasy value barely moves. He goes from one pitcher-friendly park to another. Both Tropicana Field and AT&T Park suppress right-handed power, but AT&T does so to an even larger degree. The offenses on both teams are subpar. He’ll bat near the top of each lineup. Not a major fantasy change for the 32-year-old third baseman.
The concern is that Longoria’s talent has been declining for several seasons. Last year he hit .261 with only 20 home runs, his lowest total since he hit 17 dingers in an injury-shortened 2012. In fact, his 96 wRC+ in 2017 ranked bottom-three in baseball among qualifying third basemen. He’s not a difference-maker at third base, but he’s better than Pablo Sandoval and Christian Arroyo, who the Giants had lined up to play third.
As for the rest of the Giants team, the lineup will see a small jump in counting stats. Also, with Span on the move, the Giants need a center fielder. It was a position of need coming into the offseason, but now it’s front and center. It’s been reported that the Giants view prospect Steven Duggar as a long-term option in center field, but whether they’re ready to commit to him yet remains to be seen.
As for the Rays, their infield depth chart was already a mess, and now it’s even more confusing.
The Rays are set in the outfield with Steven Souza, Corey Dickerson, and Kevin Kiermaier, with Mallex Smith serving as the fourth outfielder. The light-hitting Span (.272 AVG with 12 HR and 12 SB in 2017) isn’t good enough to play center field anymore (that’s why the Giants got rid of him), but he doesn’t hit well enough for a corner spot, either. If the Rays are unable to flip him to another team, he’s likely headed to the end of the bench or will be released.
Arroyo struggled in the majors last season, hitting .192 with three homers in 135 plate appearances. While he was ranked as the top prospect in the Giants’ system by MLB.com, it’s a weak system, and he’s no future superstar. All of his value is in his Hit Tool (60 grade), though he hasn’t shown he can hit in the majors yet.
Arroyo joins former Giant Matt Duffy in a deep, but uninspiring Rays infield with Adeiny Hechavarria, Daniel Robertson, Willy Adames, Ryan Schimpf, Joey Wendle, and Brad Miller. Of the group, only Miller is projected with a wOBA over .300 (.323 according to Steamer projections). The Rays seem to be going with the splatter approach and hope a couple of guys become productive hitters.
With a gun to my head, I’d guess Robertson at second, Hechavarria at short, and Arroyo at third, with Miller at DH. I’m likely wrong, though. Fantasy owners are going to have to see how the situation shakes out in spring training, or with the Rays’ future moves.
The final pieces, pitching prospects Krook and Woods, are non-fantasy factors for 2018 and probably beyond. According to MLB.com, Krook ranked No. 25 in a weak Giants farm system, with Woods ranking No. 29. Neither one has pitched above Single-A.
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