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UPDATED: Farewell, Evan Longoria

The Giants have declined their $13 million option on the 37-year old 3-time All-Star, 3-time Gold Glover.

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San Francisco Giants v Colorado Rockies Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

According to Evan Longoria via Susan Slusser, the San Francisco Giants have declined their $13 million option on the third baseman for 2023. He’ll get a $5 million buyout instead... and possibly the final tag of #GoodGiant?

While Longoria says he’s still engaged in conversations with the team about a return and the Giants have variably signaled throughout the year their potential interest, whatever renegotiated rate would have to be pretty close to $13 million anyway, and if memory serves, the Tampa Bay Rays would’ve been kicking $2 million of that $13 million anyway.

Now, could they give him a Joc Pederson deal (1 year/$6 million)? Sure. Anything’s possible. But Zaidi’s comment yesterday seems worth keeping in mind:

lol me embedding a tweet. Will Twitter still be up and running when this post publishes? Keep reading to find out!

Anyway, while Evan Longoria is not actuarially old, he’s definitely pro sports old, and was the oldest player on the Giants’ roster this season (36). He was the oldest position player last season. In fact, here is a list of every position player who has been older than Evan Longoria during his tenure (since 2018): Hunter Pence, Nick Hundley, Gregor Blanco, Erik Kratz, Stephen Vogt, and Hunter Pence (37 in 2020).

Brought over in a salary cap luxury tax-driven move to give the Giants a chance of competing in 2018 after a disastrous 64-98 in 2017 while avoiding any payroll penalties, the three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glover fell far below the team’s hopes. As the face of the Rays franchise for 10 seasons, Longoria played in 88.5% of the team’s games and registered a 125 OPS+. In his last five seasons with the Giants, injuries have limited him to just 67% of the team’s games and a 103 OPS+

He’s basically played to his aging curve, even if he’s come up a little short of projections based on those prior ten seasons. When he could stay on the field, though, he proved himself to be the Giants’ best option at the hot corner. That’s not damning with faint praise, by the way. Statcast’s Outs Above Average makes him the 11th-best third baseman in baseball since 2018. He was 60% percentile of all fielders this past season, too.

Farhan Zaidi indicated in his end of the year presser that there’s still “a role for Longo on our team in 2023” and I don’t see any reason to doubt that, but everything Zaidi says at this point feels like the tip of an iceberg. There’s a whole lot more to it than what he says, and what’s left unsaid is almost always enough to sink whatever positivity is in it.

To wit, a player of Evan Longoria’s skill set and veteran presence definitely fills two team needs, but the team will only bring him back at the price they want. Will Longoria want to play for the amount they’re offering? I somehow doubt it’ll be in the range of $6 million. What if it’s $3 million and the Giants’ point is that they’re basically paying him $8 million? Maybe that works, but maybe Evan Longoria doesn’t think he’s a $3 million/year player.

BAM. Iceberg.

Longoria had been saying he wanted to return to San Francisco, but now he’s talking about being interested in exploring free agency. So there’s a decent chance that Evan Longoria has played his last game in a Giants uniform. And if that’s the case, then I say he’s more than worthy of the Good Giant label.

He got his 1,500th hit (a double) and 300th home run with the Giants, did THIS in San Diego:

crushed lefties, made great plays at third, and hit better at Oracle than on the road — a rare accomplishment!

No, his time with the Giants (6.9 bWAR) did not propel him into the Hall of Fame conversation and injuries certainly played a big part in that, but when he was healthy he was valuable and it was fun to watch him deploy some of that old man strength and veteran savvy every once in a while. He was the face of one franchise and a hoped-for savior of another, and while it didn’t all add up to the legend track he was on early in his career, he never stopped being a player of note. Hard to do in a league that chews up players.

Maybe he’ll be back, which would be great; but if this is it, thank you, Evan Longoria.

11:52 AM — ETA: This feels unambiguous:

11/11/2022 update: