Evan Longoria sees D-backs as fit for family at this stage of career

Jan 6, 2023, 8:02 PM | Updated: 8:10 pm
San Francisco Giants' Evan Longoria runs the bases after hitting a three-run home run against the A...

San Francisco Giants' Evan Longoria runs the bases after hitting a three-run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

(AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

It’ll be four seasons from the start of 2023 since Evan Longoria played at least 90 games in a season.

The 37-year-old infielder is fully self-aware of his value. That value is as much about his willingness to impact others when he’s not playing as it is about his baseball abilities.

Even before free agency began, the former Tampa Bay Ray and San Francisco Giant made the unusual admission of offering a short list of landing spots: His current team, his former team and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“Obviously, this is one of the three places that I mentioned at the end of the year going into a potential free agency where I hoped to land,” Longoria said on a Zoom with reporters Friday. “This place made the most sense for me and for my family. We live seven, eight minutes from Talking Stick. We live 25 minutes from Downtown Phoenix. So in terms of being idyllic overall, it doesn’t get any better for us.

“But that wasn’t the only factor going into it. I watched this team from across the diamond a lot last year and I really do believe that this team has a chance to make a run, has a chance to be special. There’s a ton of young talent, the pitching staff I think is primed for a big year.”

Longoria appeared in 89 games for the Giants last year, slashing .244/.315/.451. With a .767 OPS, he produced 13 doubles, 14 home runs and 42 RBIs with 27 walks and 83 strikeouts.

His 27.9% strikeout rate was the highest of his career that includes a 2008-17 run with Tampa Bay and 2018-22 career with San Francisco.

Longoria still put up strong numbers against left-handed pitchers, with a .282 average and .812 OPS.

He expects to platoon with Josh Rojas at third base and said he looked forward to picking the 28-year-old’s brain in order to help him.

“I think Josh has a really high ceiling, you know, I think that he can be a special player,” Longoria said. “And so I think that he probably will get a lot of the at-bats against right-handers, especially starting against them at third, but he’s also a very versatile player so maybe the lineup changes a little bit in terms of us just trying to get him in there as much as possible.”

Diamondback general manager Mike Hazen and Longoria spoke about splitting time at third. Hazen also said Rojas is expected to see some playing time at second base.

That duo, as well as second baseman Ketel Marte and first baseman Christian Walker, are expected to see more opportunities in the designated hitter role to keep them fresh.

“There will be a lot of flexibility for us to be able to maneuver around all those spots,” Hazen said Friday.

The general manager said talks with Longoria were delayed when Arizona was in trade talks regarding their stash of outfielders.

The D-backs ultimately traded Daulton Varsho to the Toronto Blue Jays, and when an infielder wasn’t part of the return in that deal, the team turned to the free-agent market seeking veteran leaders to complement their young core.

To Longoria, it was important to push for the opportunity to play in front of his family.

He has a 9-year-old, 8-year-old and 1-year-old.

“It would have taken a pretty significant offer from another team to kind of deter me from doing everything I could to agree to terms here, because it makes so much sense for us and my family. My kids are all looking forward to being able to be at as many games as possible, you know outside of school … but just being able to participate more, you know, they’re at that age,” he said.

“They want to be able to come on the field after games and spend the weekends at the ballpark and stuff like that. And so I think from a mental standpoint, I’m gonna be in a much better place than I was the last couple years.”

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