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Veteran third baseman undecided on MLB future

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Veteran third baseman Evan Longoria is still “weighing his options” regarding his future ahead of the 2024 season, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Reporting back in October indicated that while the 38-year-old was undecided on his future, he was “leaning” towards playing in 2024.

A veteran of 16 MLB seasons, Longoria was selected third overall in the 2006 draft by the then-Devil Rays and rose to prominence in the big leagues quickly, becoming an All-Star in each of his first three major league seasons. During that time, he posted a strong .283/.361/.521 slash line while collecting MVP votes in each year along with two Gold Glove awards, a Silver Slugger award, and the 2008 Rookie of the Year award. Longoria spent ten seasons as the face of the franchise in Tampa, appearing in 1,435 games with the club and slashing .270/.341/.483 during that time while playing excellent defense at the hot corner.

Longoria’s production took a bit of a dip upon the infielder being shipped to San Francisco before the 2018 season. While he hit a decent .251/.312/.438 during his five seasons in San Francisco, that slightly better-than-average production was a far cry from the star-level production he boasted earlier in his career, and the veteran began to miss time with injuries more frequently after regularly playing 150-plus games during his time with the Rays. Across five years with the Giants, Longoria never appeared in more than 129 games with the club in a season and eclipsed 100 games just twice, in 2018 and 2019.

The veteran’s Giants tenure came to an end last season, when he departed for the Diamondbacks via free agency. In a part-time role with Arizona this year, Longoria flashed considerable power as he slashed .223/.295/.422 with 11 home runs in just 74 games. Notably, Longoria’s production through the season’s first four months was considerably stronger as he raked to the tune of a .238/.303/.500 slash line with 30 extra-base hits in just 178 trips to the plate. Unfortunately, Longoria hit the shelf with a lower back strain in late July and struggled badly upon his return, batting just .171 while reaching base at a 27.1% clip and failing to record an extra-base hit over his final 59 trips to the plate last year.

Given the veteran’s age and lengthy injury history, his late-season struggles cannot be completely ignored. With that being said, the form Longoria flashed for the majority of the season would represent a noticeable improvement for several clubs at the hot corner, particularly given Longoria’s willingness to accept a part-time role. The allure of returning for another season is fairly clear from Longoria’s perspective, as well: he currently sits at 1,930 career hits, putting him just 70 away from the 2,000-hit milestone. He’s also just eight round-trippers away from becoming the 100th player in MLB history to club 350 home runs in his career.

While the 38-year-old hasn’t been publicly connected to any clubs to this point in the winter, there are a few teams for whom he could make some sense, speculatively speaking. The Mets lost infield prospect Ronny Mauricio for the 2024 season due to an injury during winter ball, and Longoria could serve as a veteran mentor and right-handed hitting complement to youngster Brett Baty at third base heading into the 2024 campaign. Meanwhile, the Cubs lack an established third baseman who could mix and match Longoria with other internal options like Nick Madrigal and Miles Mastrobuoni at the hot corner.

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