SAN FRANCISCO - Last December, two teams got together for a big trade that sent Evan Longoria to the other coast. One of them was supposed to be a contender, the other was supposed to be out of the race by September.
That is how it ended up turning out, but the Giants were not the side playing important games down the stretch. The Rays planned to rebuild, but after dealing their face of the franchise, they ended up stumbling upon a pretty good mix and winning 90 games.
Longoria, on the other hand, found himself once again playing out the string. The Giants were done in August, and Longoria saw the other big offseason addition - Andrew McCutchen - get shipped away.
It was a disappointing first season in San Francisco for player and team. Here are the highs and lows …
What Went Right
The Giants brought Longoria in to provide right-handed thump, and he ended up leading the team with 16 homers. That's not a high total, but hey, he was the team leader.
Longoria also finished third on the roster with 28 doubles and tied for second with 54 RBI. He joined Albert Pujols and Justin Upton as the only players to hit at least 15 homers in each of the last 11 seasons. Longoria had a hard-hit rate of 41.1 percent, which was his highest in five years.
It's unclear what happened to Longoria defensively over the first couple of months, but he was outstanding after the All-Star break and led MLB with nine Defensive Runs Saved in September, per Baseball Info Solutions. He finished at seven DRS for the season, a vast improvement at the hot corner for the Giants.
What Went Wrong
Pretty much across the board, Longoria's numbers took a hit. He had a .229/.279/.336 slash line at AT&T Park and finished with an OPS of .694, the lowest of his career by 30 points. His OPS+ of 89 was well below league average.
He might have led the Giants in homers, but 16 marked a career-low, and he failed to drive in at least 70 runs for the first time since 2012.
The biggest issue at the plate for Longoria was the stunning inability to draw walks. He always has been a bit of a free swinger, but he had just 22 walks in 512 plate appearances. His .281 on-base percentage was the lowest mark of any NL hitter who qualified for the batting title.
Longoria missed 34 games when he was hit by a pitch in Miami and fractured his fifth metacarpal. It was the year of the fractured metacarpal for the Giants.
Longoria is due to make $14.5 million in 2019, and he is guaranteed at least $72.5 million over the rest of a contract that lasts through 2022. The Rays are responsible for a chunk of that - they chipped in $14.5 million at the time of the deal - but still it's a large commitment moving forward for the Giants.
Longoria is 33, had a down year at the plate and is owed a ton of money. The Giants are in this position with a number of players. It's not realistic to trade him, and the Giants don't have a replacement ready at third base anyway.
Longoria will be a Giant on Opening Day in 2019, and likely for years to come. The front office can do nothing but hope his numbers take a positive turn in his second year in San Francisco.