It took awhile for the Giants’ engine to get revved up, but Brian Sabean sounds optimistic there’s no slowing down anytime soon.
On Wednesday morning, Giants’ general manager Bobby Evans, manager Bruce Bochy and Sabean all joined in on a conference call featuring newly acquired San Francisco third baseman Evan Longoria to discuss the trade that landed the former Rays’ franchise cornerstone in the Bay Area.
The 10-year Major League veteran spoke about his excitement to join a roster loaded with proven winners heading into an even year, and also discussed the opportunity to play in front of sold out crowds on a nightly basis. While Longoria was conveying his thoughts on the trade, Sabean hinted the transaction positioned San Francisco for another marquee transaction in the near future.
“I think it proves that there’s heavy lifting to do, but making this move, Bobby and his staff have positioned ourself for the next shoe to drop and we hope to add accordingly and we hope it will be as significant of a move as this one,” Sabean said. “We’re thrilled to have Evan and we know that moving forward, our core players that are in their prime, Evan will step right in and be a part of the turnaround that we expect in the 2018 season.”
To help complete the trade for Longoria, the Giants sent top prospect Christian Arroyo as well as outfielder Denard Span and two pitching prospects to Tampa Bay. With Longoria scheduled to earn $13.5 million next year and Span set to make $11 million, the Rays kicked in some extra money that Evans confirmed helps make the deal cash-neutral for 2018.
“Bobby did a great job to massage the deal and we will receive money back that will help us going forward on the contract,” Sabean said.
The Giants are determined to form a roster with a payroll that rests comfortably below the 2018 competitive balance tax threshold of $197 million, which is a difficult task to achieve considering the Giants are weighed down by several big contracts. However, after dealing Matt Moore and his $9 million salary to the Texas Rangers and pulling off a cash-neutral swap for Longoria, the Giants now have the financial flexibility to trade for or sign an impact outfielder.
“Bobby really worked through a lot of details within this deal more so to set us up for a potential next move and that’s where we’re going to shift our focus,” Sabean said.
While Sabean sounded eager to get to work on the Giants’ next move, Evans continued to play the franchise’s hand close to the vest. When asked about how San Francisco would address its situation in left field after trading Span, Evans refused to offer up any tips.
“Our focus in addressing our outfield and our lineup, that remains an important part of our offseason,” Evans said. “It’s a work in progress, there’s no destination for us to speak to right now, we need to wait and see how things play out.”
Regardless of how the next few days play out for San Francisco, Sabean reiterated the importance of the trade for Longoria and confirmed his belief the Giants will be able to spark a turnaround and contend in 2018.
“A long-awaited day in our offseason dealings of sorts,” Sabean said. “The organization just got better. We hope that the fan base and the organization realizes that this affirms our commitment to turn our fortunes around as soon as possible, specifically with the 2018 season. We check off a huge box with this acquisition. Evan is a known player and quite frankly, you look at his baseball card, we’re getting somebody that’s not only an accomplished third baseman that hits in the middle of the order, he improves our defense overnight, a middle of the order presence that is sorely needed.”