After his contract with the San Francisco Giants ended last season, third baseman Evan Longoria had three places in mind that he had hoped to land in free agency — the Giants, a return to the Tampa Bay Rays, and the Diamondbacks.
Having played with the division-rival Giants since 2018, Longoria got plenty of first-hand opportunities to see the Diamondbacks’ potential. He says he liked what he saw, and it helped make the Valley a potential destination.
After signing a one year, $4 million contract on January 5, the 2008 American League Rookie of the Year and three-time All-Star put pen to paper on his interest with Los Serpientes.
“I watched this team from across the diamond a lot last year,” Longoria says. “I really do believe that this team has a chance to make a run and has a chance to be special. There’s a ton of young talent. The pitching staff, I think, is prime for a big year, and so one of the things that was a big factor for me coming into the offseason was not only can I find a place that is a good fit, but also a place that’s going to try and put a winning team out there and have a chance to be in the playoffs.”
Most importantly, though, is his family. Longoria has three kids — ages 10, 3 and 1 — and he hasn’t been able to spend as much time with them as he has wanted throughout his career.
Longoria’s home is close to Salt River Fields and Chase Field, so becoming a Diamondback was a natural fit.
“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 my family,” Longoria says. “My kids are all looking forward to being able to be at as many games as possible outside of their school obligations.
“They want to be out there; they want to be able to come on the field after games and spend the weekends at the ballpark and stuff like that. So, I think from a mental standpoint, I’m going to be in a much better place than I was the last couple of years.”
According to advanced stats such as WRC+ and OPS+, Longoria enjoyed two of his best offensive seasons in 2021 and 2022 since 2016, where he smacked 26 home runs and knocked in 98 with the Rays. He is hoping to continue that success here in the Valley and is looking forward to getting it going.
“Hopefully we can continue that here,” Longoria says. “I’ve spoken with hitting coaches in terms of like, what they do for work, how they do scouting reports and all those things. So, I’m definitely looking forward to picking their brains a little bit more and continuing to get better.”
Beginning the season, Longoria is looking at a potential platoon situation with Josh Rojas at third base. He says he spoke with head coach Torey Lovullo and general manager Mike Hazen “at length” about his role prior to signing.
“The idea is to just be able to try and help this team win as much as possible wherever they see fit,” he says. “So, every year going into the season, I try and prepare for a full season and being out there as much as possible. So, that won’t change.”
Longoria, 37, joins a team that is known around the league for its youth and potential to win in the coming years. Entering the latter stages of his career, he hopes to provide the young guys with tips on the best way to prepare for games while being the best player and person on and off the field.
“I think that the veteran presence in the clubhouse is invaluable,” he says. “And obviously, I hope to kind of be that guy for some of these guys who may be looking for that.”
Being a veteran, he adds, can help “wins show up in different ways.”
“If I can help a guy to become the kind of player that we as an organization believes he can be, we’re adding wins in another way,” Longoria says.
“Although I hope to be on the field as much as possible and contributing physically in terms of wins and losses on the field, my role has definitely pivoted a little bit as I’ve gotten older in these last couple years realizing not only can I help on the field, but the impact is sometimes equally as great trying to help these other guys become the best player that they can be.”
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