Evan Longoria is excited about everything San Francisco has to offer -- playing for a promising and respected Giants franchise in front of sellout crowds daily, and returning to his native California -- except for paying rent.
"When you go from living in Florida to having to find a place in San Francisco -- and I'm sure there are plenty of people that are going, 'You make millions of dollars,' it's all relative," Longoria told MLB Network on Friday, about the area real estate.
Longoria reflected on his ambitions with a Giants club that's been aggressive in its attempt to rebound from an MLB-worst 64-98 record. Longoria, who was the longest-tenured player in Rays history, was acquired on Dec. 20 for outfielder Denard Span and three of the Giants' then-Top 30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline: infielder Christian Arroyo (No. 1), left-hander Matt Krook (No. 25) and right-hander Stephen Woods (No. 29).
Longoria said he had a strong inclination he would be traded after speaking with Rays general manager Erik Neander roughly two weeks before the deal was finalized. The Rays are seeking to shed payroll and Longoria would have earned full 10-and-5 rights three days into the season that would give him a full no-trade clause, thus creating urgency to move the $86 million he's owed through 2022 with an option and buyout for '23.
"I didn't have a no-trade clause, so I couldn't really dictate where I went," Longoria said. "But I kind of gave them a list of teams. I obviously wanted to go to a contender. I mean, if I was going to leave for anybody, I wanted to go somewhere that I felt like they were going to be committed to winning, year-in and year-out. I kind of gave them a short list of teams that I thought would be a good fit for me."
In addition to the third-base-starved Giants, Longoria said he listed the Cardinals. St. Louis had been seeking an impact bat, and were as aggressive as any club in the Giancarlo Stanton sweepstakes, but Stanton denied a trade to the Cardinals and was eventually dealt to the Yankees. St. Louis was also linked to Josh Donaldson trade rumors, as reported by MLB.com.
The Giants need power, presence and longevity, which they believe Longoria can deliver, particularly at a position that has hamstrung them since Pablo Sandoval left via free agency after their 2014 World Series title. Longoria has played in at least 156 games in each of the last five years, more than any other player in that span, and in '16, he hit a career-high 36 homers.
"The consistency of his play, 150-plus games every year and just his overall approach to the game, his presence in our lineup, in our clubhouse, he's sorely needed," Giants general manager Bobby Evans said last month. "We have high expectations for ourselves as does Evan."
Longoria will look to transition his offensive prowess into a ballpark known for being pitcher-friendly. He's played in 1,435 games, but none at AT&T Park.
"When I got traded over, I looked at the fan numbers, and I mean, San Francisco wasn't very good last year but they were still No. 3 overall in Major League Baseball in terms of the fan draw. So that's going to be a big change, and just playing on grass every day," he said, referring to the turf at indoor Tropicana Field.
Longoria is prepared for a change of scenery. He's already visited the club's facility in Scottsdale, Ariz., he told MLB Network Radio, with Spring Training just five weeks away.