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Inbox: Can Longoria bounce back in 2019?

Beat reporter Maria Guardado answers questions from fans
MLB.com @mi_guardado

What do the Giants expect of Evan Longoria in 2019?
-- Scott S., Palo Alto, Calif.

Longoria disappointed in his first season in San Francisco, so I think the Giants are probably hoping to see an offensive rebound from their 33-year-old third baseman this year. After coming over from the Rays, Longoria experienced a notable decline at the plate, batting .244 with a .694 OPS and an 89 OPS+, both of which were career lows. While he led San Francisco with 16 home runs, they were the fewest of Longoria's 11-season stint in the Majors. He also missed 34 games after breaking his left hand on a hit-by-pitch in Miami.

What do the Giants expect of Evan Longoria in 2019?
-- Scott S., Palo Alto, Calif.

Longoria disappointed in his first season in San Francisco, so I think the Giants are probably hoping to see an offensive rebound from their 33-year-old third baseman this year. After coming over from the Rays, Longoria experienced a notable decline at the plate, batting .244 with a .694 OPS and an 89 OPS+, both of which were career lows. While he led San Francisco with 16 home runs, they were the fewest of Longoria's 11-season stint in the Majors. He also missed 34 games after breaking his left hand on a hit-by-pitch in Miami.

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Longoria's contract makes him difficult to move, so it's likely he'll remain with the Giants for the foreseeable future. Given his track record and pedigree, I think he still has the potential to be a productive player, especially if he can recoup his ability to get on base. Longoria will also enter the 2019 campaign with increased familiarity of the National League and its pitchers, so that could also help bring his numbers closer to his career norms.

Can Pablo Sandoval still play a key role for the Giants in 2019?
-- Tom B., Kelso, Scotland

While it's unlikely that Sandoval will return to the All-Star level he enjoyed earlier in his career, I think his performance in 2018 showed that he still has some value as a utility player and a veteran bat off the bench for San Francisco. Before a torn right hamstring ended his season in July, Sandoval appeared in 92 games and hit .248 with nine home runs and 40 RBIs. He was particularly effective as a situational hitter, batting .323 with runners in scoring position and .286 as a pinch-hitter.

Sandoval's defensive versatility -- he started at third, first and second base and even made a pitching appearance this past season -- makes him a good fit for the type of roster president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi would like to construct, so I think Sandoval will have the opportunity to contribute regularly in the final season of his five-year, $95 million contract.

I'm prepared to give Zaidi a sufficient amount of time to set a new course for the Giants. As long as non-performers Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Mark Melancon are drawing big paychecks, it will be a monumental challenge. However, thus far Zaidi has only added the likes of Travis Bergen, Breyvic Valera, Mike Gerber, and Drew Ferguson. How will these unproven names help the turnaround?
-- Gerald L., Columbus, Ind.

I think most of the additions the Giants have made so far have been viewed as depth pieces, so it's probably unrealistic to expect all of them to step in and immediately become regulars in 2019. But, as Zaidi pointed out during the Winter Meetings this past month, some of the best deals he made with the Dodgers didn't seem like "headline moves" at the time of their consummation. Max Muncy, for example, joined Los Angeles on a Minor League deal and emerged as a breakout star this past season, crushing 35 home runs and posting a .973 OPS. Zaidi has previously succeeded in finding undervalued players and giving them chances to stick in the big leagues, so I think it's worth giving him the benefit of the doubt.

So far this offseason, Zaidi has done a nice job in adding depth pieces, but the most noteworthy addition he's made thus far is Pat Venditte. I'm trying to be patient and have faith in Zaidi since he has a winning track record of success, but how long will it be before he makes a move that conveys a clear message to fans about what the vision is for 2019? 
-- Matthew I., Millbrae, Calif.

I don't think the Giants are done making moves this offseason, so it's going to be tough to forecast how competitive they'll be until we get a better sense of the type of talent they'll have on their Opening Day roster. As it stands, FanGraphs projections have San Francisco winning 76 games and tying the Padres for last place in the NL West in 2019. Zaidi still has plenty of holes to fill, so those projections could easily change in the coming weeks, but unless he makes big acquisitions, I think it'll be difficult to expect the Giants to contend this year.

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter

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