Once the face of the Rays franchise, it’s been a trying few seasons for oft-injured third baseman Evan Longoria. Longoria was let go by the Giants earlier in the offseason, but the former All-Star will stay in the NL West for 2023. Longoria will be headed to Arizona, as the 37-year-old has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Diamondbacks. It’s a low-risk move for the D-Backs, a group that could use some pop in its young, inexperienced lineup.
A Look at Longoria
A three-time All-Star, Evan Longoria was one of the game’s best third basemen from 2008-2016. During that span, Longoria batted .271/.344/.490 with 241 homers and an OPS+ (128) well above the league average. Since then, Longoria’s numbers (.253/.312/.434, 102 OPS+) have taken a bit of a tumble.
Still, there are numbers that suggest the 37-year-old can still provide a punch for the Diamondbacks come next season. While Longoria has missed nearly half of the past two seasons thanks to injuries, the third baseman has still proven to be a solid hitter when healthy. Across 170 games between 2021-2022, Longoria has batted .252/.333/.466 with 27 home runs and 57 extra base hits. Longoria’s above-average Barrel% (12.4%) and BB% (9.1%) from last season also paint a pretty picture of that impact that the former Giant had when on the field.
Now off to Arizona, Longoria joins a team on the rise, and one in need of some right-handed hitting prowess.
What it Means
Just from a glance at the Diamondbacks’ depth chart entering the offseason, it made a good amount of sense for Arizona to target at least one right-handed bat this winter. The 2022 Diamondbacks were primarily a left-handed hitting heavy team, thanks to the likes of Seth Beer, Daulton Varsho, Jake McCarthy, Alek Thomas, and Josh Rojas. First baseman Christian Walker and second baseman Ketel Marte kept things somewhat even, although the latter is a switch-hitter who has generally performed well throughout his career against lefties (.872 career OPS) as opposed to right-handed pitchers (.751).
Arizona has addressed that, as the D-Backs added former AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis from Seattle, as well as Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Gabriel Moreno from Toronto in a massive deal that sent the aforementioned Varsho to Canada.
Arizona’s primary third baseman last season was Josh Rojas, a 28-year-old that can get on base, as indicated by a solid 10.8% BB% rate and .349 OBP last season. On the flip side, Rojas doesn’t have great power. Lack of power and run production was a theme for the Diamondbacks last season, as just two regulars from 2022 (Walker and Varsho) had 20 or more home runs. And as mentioned earlier, one of those two won’t be back in Arizona next season. Longoria should address at least of that power problem.
With a deep farm system and a number of talented infield prospects, bringing in a player like Longoria makes sense, especially on a short-term deal. How much Longoria can offer in 2023, though, will depend on his health. After a number of injuries sustained over the past two seasons, it is fair to wonder whether Longoria can stay on the field long enough to make an impact for an upstart D-Backs team.