Season over, Longoria 'committed' to return to SF

October 4th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- sat in the visiting clubhouse at Petco Park on Monday afternoon with his fractured right thumb submerged in a green Gatorade cup filled with ice water. The 36-year-old third baseman knew his thumb was broken as soon as he was struck by a sharply hit grounder that took a bad hop on Sunday, sending him to the injured list for the fourth time this year.

It was disappointing news for Longoria, who found himself canceling previously arranged tee times after learning that he’d have to spend the next four to six weeks rehabbing. The injury ended his season three days early, though it might not necessarily mark the end of his 15-year career in the Majors.

Longoria said he intends to keep playing if the Giants decide to exercise his $13 million club option for 2023, which includes a $5 million buyout. If San Francisco declines the option, Longoria said he’d be willing to renegotiate with the club or test free agency for the first time in his career.

“I’m committed to coming back here,” Longoria said prior to the Giants’ 7-4 series-opening loss against the Padres. “I’m a Giant until I’m not a Giant anymore. I don’t have any desire to go anywhere else. I’m very comfortable here.”

Longoria’s wife, Jaime, and their three kids have already said they would like to see him play another year. Longoria’s family lived in Arizona for most of his five-year tenure in San Francisco, but they’d join him for the full season if he were to continue playing in 2023. His preference would be to stay with the Giants and find a home in the East Bay, though he noted that Arizona and Tampa Bay would also be appealing since he already has residences there, as well.

“Obviously, that’s the pipe dream,” Longoria said. “If I could choose anywhere to go, it would be very easy on my family.”

Another priority would be to play for a contender, a category Longoria believes the Giants still fall into despite missing the playoffs in 2022.

“I think the pieces are there,” Longoria said. “I don’t see this organization and [president of baseball operations] Farhan [Zaidi] as a sit-and-wait-and-see type of organization. There’s been too much success here in recent years. I think he understands that the fanbase wants to win, and that’s a good thing. I don’t see him taking four or five years to rebuild completely from the bottom.

“I definitely think that Farhan will try and make a big splash and build a roster a little bit closer to what he sees as a contender.”

Injuries limited Longoria to 89 games this year, but he was productive when healthy, batting .244 with a .767 OPS and 14 home runs. Despite his personal challenges, Longoria remained an invaluable presence in the clubhouse, serving as a mentor to younger players and a sounding board for personnel throughout the organization.

“Everybody depends on Longo’s leadership,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Who he represents to this group is a real guiding light for us.”

Kapler, who played with Longoria in Tampa Bay, said he believes the three-time All-Star still has plenty left in the tank if he wants to keep playing beyond this season.

“I can speak to Longoria’s bat speed. It’s still there,” Kapler said. “The power is still there. … He’s still a good, athletic defender. He knows exactly how his throwing arm plays. He doesn’t show off his arm all the time, but he’s very accurate with it. I think to the degree that Evan wants to continue to play Major League Baseball, I think he’ll have plenty of opportunities to do that.”

Longoria admitted that it took him a while to feel comfortable with the Giants after coming over from the Rays in December 2017, but now that he’s settled in, he’s hoping he’ll have a chance to stick around for a little while longer.

“There was definitely an adjustment period, coming from being somewhere for so long,” Longoria said. “Obviously, it takes time, but I’d say somewhere to the middle to end of that first year is when I started to feel like this was the place that I should be. Obviously, the last four years have been great. I wouldn’t explore anything else until whatever happens here is done.”