Evan Longoria Joins Diamondbacks
Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported on Friday that the Diamondbacks had reached an agreement with free agent third baseman Evan Longoria on a one-year, $4 million contract. It had been reported previously that up to five teams had expressed interest in the 37-year-old slugger – and that his preference was to play for a contender. Ultimately, it appears as though he settled for his best shot at regular playing time rather than playing a complimentary role on a club with its sights set on the postseason.
Longoria actually performed pretty well when he was on the field for the Giants during the 2022 campaign – slashing .244/.315/.451 with 14 homers and 42 RBI in only 298 plate appearances. Health has been a major problem for him in recent seasons though, as he's missed a sizable chunk of games in each of his last four full seasons – the truncated 2020 campaign notwithstanding.
The real question on the minds of fantasy managers is does he have enough left in the tank to return to fantasy relevancy in Arizona? Possibly. A quick look under the hood reveals that Longoria posted a career-worst strikeout rate in 2022 (27.9%), but he also posted the highest launch angle of his career (18.2) and the lowest ground ball rate of his career as well (36.6%). It appears as though he made a conscious effort to hit the ball in the air more and accepted the rise in strikeout rate to try to bump up his power numbers. That sounds good in theory – and the move out of Oracle Park and to the more hitter-friendly confines of Chase Field – could result in mid-20's home runs and solid RBI totals over a full season. It won't help his batting average though, and we know that Longoria provides nothing in the stolen base department, so even in a best case scenario he looks like a two-category contributor.
That still has some value in deeper fantasy leagues as a corner infielder or backup third base option. At his current average draft position – just inside the top-600 players overall – there's enough meat on the bone to make Longoria a worthwhile gamble in the final rounds of drafts.
Cubs add Tucker Barnhart
The Cubs had made it known from the start of the offseason that they were in the market for a glove-first backstop to share the load behind the plate with Yan Gomes. It seems like they identified Tucker Barnhart as a target early on in that process and ultimately they were able to reel him in on a two-year, $6.5 million pact.
He struggled mightily at the plate in his lone season with the Tigers – slashing just .221/.287/.267 with one home run and 16 RBI in 308 plate appearances. He remains one of the better defensive catchers in all of baseball though and is very well-respected in the game for how he handles a pitching staff. Barnhart also has a strong familiarity with the National League Central already – having spent the first eight seasons of his big league career with the Reds.
Even if he was going to see the bulk of the playing time though, his limited offensive capabilities would preclude him from any relevance from a fantasy perspective – even in deeper two-catcher formats.
MLB Quick Hits: Jon Heyman of the New York Post reported Saturday that the Cubs are deep in contract negotiations with free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer… The Dodgers officially announced their one-year, $10 million contract with J.D. Martinez… The Yankees signed right-hander Tyler Danish to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league camp… The Cubs designated P.J. Higgins for assignment… The Dodgers designated right-hander Jake Reed for assignment… The White Sox granted Mark Payton his release – paving the way for him to sign with the Seibu Lions of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball… The Twins brought back Danny Coulombe on a minor league pact with an invitation to spring training… Steve Cishek announced his retirement from professional baseball… Jacob Nix signed on with the Orix Buffaloes in the NPB in Japan… The Twins signed utilityman Willi Castro to a minor league deal with an invitation to big league camp… Red Sox outfielder Masataka Yoshida has committed to play for Japan in the upcoming World Baseball Classic… The Yankees signed outfielders Billy McKinney and Willie Calhoun to minor league deals with invitations to spring training… The Braves inked Joshua Fuentes to a minor league deal… The White Sox added Jesse Scholtens on a minor league pact… The Tigers acquired Tyler Nevin from the Orioles for cash considerations… To make room on their 40-man roster, they designated left-hander Zach Logue for assignment.