The Giants have a whopping 71 players in Major League Spring Training this season — a testament to an active offseason in terms of minor league free agency and also a reflection of the lack of certainty on a roster that is still being retooled by a new regime. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi appeared on KNBR’s Murph & Mac Show yesterday to discuss the state of the roster, echoing at multiple points that “competition is going to be the theme of this camp” (full audio of the 18-minute interview).
Not surprisingly, Zaidi dubbed both Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly, who each signed one-year Major League deals this winter, as likely members of the rotation. As for the fifth spot behind Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Gausman and Smyly, the Giants’ president named right-hander right-handers Tyler Beede, Logan Webb and Dereck Rodriguez as well as lefty Andrew Suarez as possible options to win the job.
While there’s really only one spot available on the starting staff, that’s far from the case with respect to San Francisco’s relief corps. “Our bullpen is going to be pretty wide open,” Zaidi acknowledged. “…We’ve had some guys really impress. Matt Carasiti, Rico Garcia were both really impressive a couple days ago.”
That open competition is partly by design and partly by circumstance. The club surely hoped that righty Reyes Moronta would anchor a high-leverage spot in 2020, but shoulder surgery late in the ’19 campaign will sideline him for most, if not all of the upcoming season. Will Smith departed via free agency, taking an early three-year deal with the Braves. Zaidi & Co. traded both Mark Melancon and Sam Dyson, each of whom was controlled through 2020, at last year’s deadline. What was arguably the Giants’ greatest strength entering the 2019 season quickly became a blank canvas for 2020.
So, who’s in the mix? Likely closer Tony Watson and out-of-options righty Trevor Gott are the only two relievers on the roster who threw even 30 innings out of the ’pen last season. It’s possible that any of the aforementioned quartet of fifth-starter candidates could transition to a relief role. Tyler Rogers, Sam Coonrod and Jandel Gustave all received auditions in the bullpen last year, with Rogers (the twin brother of Twins closer Taylor Rogers) looking particularly impressive. Elsewhere on the 40-man roster, waiver claim Jarlin Garcia is out of minor league options, and Rule 5 pick Dany Jimenez is in a similar make-the-team-or-get-the-boot scenario.
The Giants moved prospect Shaun Anderson to the bullpen last year, and his name was notably absent when Zaidi discussed potential fifth starters. That’s also true of veteran non-roster invitees Trevor Cahill and Tyson Ross. One shouldn’t necessarily read Zaidi’s omission of those names in an off-the-cuff setting as a clear statement that they’re being viewed as bullpen-only pieces, but both Cahill and Ross have worked as relievers in the past, and it’s clear the bullpen offers a broader avenue to making the team. Beyond Carasiti and Garcia, both named by Zaidi, the Giants have veterans Jerry Blevins, Nick Vincent and Andrew Triggs in camp on non-roster deals.
Zaidi spent less time discussing the battles on the position-player side of things, but he did offer some insight into the role of Mauricio Dubon. It’s been suggested that the Giants will get the former Red Sox/Brewers infield prospect — acquired in last summer’s Drew Pomeranz/Ray Black swap — some work in center field. Zaidi made the organization’s plans for Dubon rather clear.
“He’s really embraced that possibility of moving around,” Zaidi said of the 25-year-old Dubon. “He obviously he played shortstop the first day [of Cactus League play]. Hopefully we get him out there in center field pretty soon. … He knows the more spots he can play, the more options he’s going to give Gabe and the staff, and the more at-bats he’s going to get. He’s fully embraced that.”
Playing Dubon all over the diamond will allow the club to take a longer look at non-roster invitee Yolmer Sanchez for second base. The Giants also have veteran utilityman Donovan Solano and former Rays prospect Kean Wong (younger brother of the Cardinals’ Kolten Wong) to evaluate. And with an outfield mix that is, by Zaidi’s own admission, somewhat unsettled in its own right, a successful acclimation to outfield work by Dubon (even on a part-time basis) would help shore things up.
With such a wide level of options already competing for roster spots, one might assume the Giants are done adding, but that’s not necessarily the case. The Giants’ catching depth took a hit when presumptive backup Aramis Garcia suffered a hip injury that required surgical repair — possibly sidelining him for the whole season. Rob Brantly and Tyler Heineman had already been inked as depth options behind Garcia, but that duo is now battling for a spot on the Opening Day roster … unless the Giants acquire another option.
“[Brantly and Heineman] both have legitimate shots,” Zaidi said. “But we also told those guys, ’Hey, we may go out and get somebody else. Either somebody else who’s in the competition or maybe even jumps to the front of the line.’ So those guys are aware of that, and we’ll keep an eye out. We’ll keep looking for the best possible option.”
The catching market has been largely picked over, although Russell Martin stands out as a notable veteran option who still boasts quality on-base and defensive skills. Any number of veterans who signed minor league deals elsewhere could potentially opt out of said deals or be cut loose, replenishing some of the open-market options. The waiver wire, of course, always presents another avenue from which Zaidi has never shied away. The bulk of the Giants’ offseason work in terms of player acquisition is done, but Zaidi and his staff still have a landslide of decisions to make over the next four weeks.
Zaidi cut a glove first, no stick 2nd basemen that was homegrown and had huge moments in team history but now is looking at Sanchez who hits even less?
dynamite drop in monty
Joe Panik for Heliot Ramos and Joey Bart, who says no?
Spooky, pillars defense had slipped. Sometimes diving catches are the result of misjudgment. And who cares that panik was homegrown? He was already past his prime. Isn’t it a common criticism how the giants have spent too much money on players that had “huge moments in giants history”. Isn’t that a bind that they’re in now for rewarding other players past their prime for historic accomplishments?
If Sanchez is a starting second baseman, he’ll be cheaper than panik was and a tremendously better fielder. Or it’ll be Dubon or Solano or Flores. You’re seriously upset they dropped Panik.
I’ve been a giants fan since 60s and it’s ridiculous and embarrassing how so many CURRENT fans are so clueless.
Claude, I think that concussion really affected Panik. He wasn’t the same player after that.
Panik hasn’t been much of a defender the last few years.
Joe Panik is terrible. What is with Giants fans Hunter Pence , Duffy religious like infatuations with mediocre guys like Panik?
Pence .330 against lefties. Extra hitters now with new rosters. Duffy? Frank Duffy?
That’s a throwback.
More like Matt Duffy. Notice that Zaidi didn’t bring him back when he was available to come in on a minor league deal. I suppose that’s progress.
Dude I know who he meant
Panik stinks. Classic over attached Giants fan.
On the position player side, the Giants have no all star starters. If Posey recovers fully from hip surgery he may be a back up.
If Cueto returns to form, he could produce at a high level.
The rest of the roster are largely replacement level or lower talents.
In short, there are a lot of “ifs” just to produce above an AAAA team. Very little to be excited about over all.
I am going to get the minor league streaming package to watch Joey Bart Train and Heliot Ramos.
Their top tier talent is still a year away. Dubon and Davis have potential to have decent years, as with Yaz, and young pitchers need to take a step forward. Writer failed to mention Flores, and Sanchez may have an option available, so he may end up being depth piece. Emjoy the cheaper prices at Oracle this year and keep fingers crossed we turn a corner next year.
I totally agree with geg42 above. My exact feelings.
They’re gonna be terrible. Worst team in the NL West. Possibly , the worst team in the league
You wouldn’t be so annoying if actually had some info. There are a lot of people on here who give good, supported comments. Facts. But you just try to annoy and you are good at it…but it’s gotten really old
What’s your issue? You hate the Giants for some reason? Of course the Giants aren’t good right now. They are rebuilding.
Picking on a team that is rebuilding is like going into a boxing match with a one armed man. It just makes you look cheap and cowardly.
with all the playing time available, somebody is going to step and be decent, like Mike Yastremski was last year. not great, just decent, and unexpected.
Both Brandons need to sit down, keep quiet, cash their checks, and be grateful
Joey Bart looks ready to go but hopefully the Gints won’t rush him and then pull the plug when he struggles, like they have done with so many prospects…
How can Bart look ready when he hasn’t played a single game at AAA? Being a catcher, because catchers need more time in the minors than any other position, he’ll probably not see the bigs until Sept at the earliest.
And who are all these players that the Giants rushed and then pulled the plug on? In fact it’s just the opposite. I see a lot of fans crying for guys in the minors to be brought up, and the team refuses to do so. Your’s is the first criticism I’ve ever seen that claims the Giants rush guys.
The SF ‘giants’ are a rich mans version of the Orioles.
What a mess.
At least they have the good old days..
Yep. 4 or 5 prospects in the top 100. First time ever. 5 draft picks in the first 79. Farm system ranking that jumped to 14 from 28. Much lower payroll that will get lower by next year so can get free agents once those prospects get to the majors in next 1-2 years.
Yep. What a mess. Kinda similar to end of Bonds era. Hmm, what happened after those lousy years.
Totally agree with Claude Raymond, giants have Bart, Luciano, Ramos, Bishop, Seth Corry, Alexander Canario, Sean Hjelle, Logan Webb, Mauricio Dubon, and Will Wilson all to look forward to. They also have 5 top draft picks this year and a new coaching staff to help get players like posey, belt, Longoria, and Crawford back to their prime. On top of this, Gausman, Smyly, and Samardzija all looked phenomenal in Spring Training. I wouldn’t be surprised if the giants play meaningful games in august and have a .500 record. 2021 and on will show the giants in the playoffs numerous times with multiple NLCS series.
This team isn’t even remotely close to being a .500 team.Lol. This is clearly, a 90+ Loss team
Also, you can’t ‘Coach up’ guys like Crawford , Belt or Posey back to their glory days. These guys are done. Their best days are behind them. Old players get worse…..never better
Last year the giants were only 4 games under .500 and they have made many improvements like the addition of Wilmer Flores and a gold glover Yolmer Sanchez. No way they will be worse then last year. And that is not true that old guys never get better. Justin Verlander was supposed t be way out of his prime with tigers and now he is a cy young contender,
Ryan Zimmerman comes to mind. Pretty sure he had a huge role last year. Not sure why I respond to you, righty. But you continue to add nada
omg, denial is the strongest force in the universe…
And thats good enough for the 4th best farm in the division. Money can make them pass AZ long term but tye Dodgers and Padres both have far superior young talent.
When was the last time that helped to Padres to a World Series?
amk thats true, however Padres as an organization just can’t compete. They’ve already dumped some prospect capital to try an win this year. It better happen this year or next, before our rebuild is complete. AZ/LA will be tough competition for a long time no doubt.
I agree with you guys, .500 is a real possibility. People complain that Bum is gone but how soon they forget we have Johnny coming back, Shark is a better version of himself, Tyler Anderson, Smyly, Gausman, Beede, Webb + other depth. Those guys will be better than Holland, Pomeranz were. Can’t be any worse.
Bullpen early in the season could be a problem, then again may be not. Garcia, Watson, Gott, Rogers are all solid. Jimenez we’ll see, he has great stuff. The other 2 or 3 slots will be something to watch, plenty of options. The question there is, do they go all in on using veterans to create trade chips, or do they use the best pitchers? That could cost us some wins so we’ll see but I have no doubts we will have a great bullpen on August 1st.
The lineup is going to be better and its not even close. Lineup against LHP is going to be tremendous, look at those splits! Lots of LHP in the division. Plenty of good splits against RHP too. Guys I’m most interested to see: Buster’s comeback due to much improved health, Belt–how much will the shorter fence help, Yolmer’s improved offense, can Davis bust out, Billy–can his changed philosophy on hitting be enough to get some starts, or will they just consider him on the roster as a defensive replacement/baserunner, the debut of Joey Bart.
One other thing, our defense and baserunning should improve quite a bit with the infusion of young athletes and Yolmer’s glove. Those are no small qualities for a middling team that plays in a pitcher biased ballpark.
If 2 of the guys competing for the 5th spot in the rotation look good they should consider using a 6 man. It’s not like they are going to be contenders and are heavily relying on a win from Cueto every 5th day to stay in the hunt.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Beede gets the 5th spot and has a breakout year. Last year he showed flashes, and when he could control his fastball, he was phenomenal. Gabe Kapler said that Beede’a command and curveball both looked great, and he pitched really well in his first spring training start. If he shows any improvement from last year then he will definitely have the last spot.
Every team has peaks and valleys This is a serious valley, but remember from 2005-2008 the Giants were under .500 as well. It’s going to be messy but there will be a lot of rotating players and some young guys will step up one way or another. I’m looking forward to keeping an eye on the prospects coming up the ladder.
Some of you who whine they don’t have a competitive team – this is what Giants fans have wanted for three years now. There is clearly a plan in place to build the farm, grab some vets to trade, get rid of or wait out these albatross contracts, and be back in competition in the next couple of years.
I’m looking forward to seeing Cueto return to form, seeing Yaz run around the outfield, watch Dubon develop, hopefully see Davis become a major-league caliber slugger, and roll my eyes when DIckerson goes on the DL three times, It’s not the 2014 team, but it could be worse. We could be the Padres. We could be the Rockies.
Jek agree with everything here. And like to add that we could be, gasp…..the Pirates. Now that would be torture, and not in a good way.
We could also be giving $34 million to Drew Pomeranz…
Nah, let’s do 2019 all over again.
All the critics, please, just once, tell us what your plan would be. In detail. Or just keep whining and criticizing. I’m with you Jek except I think the padres are getting better…maybe.
Yeah, I love how so many critics will say something like the Giants have to sign a big bat, as if it was just a matter of will, without suggesting who that available big bat is, or whether if one was out there, he could be had.
But, I feel for Padres’ fans. Some Giants’ fans are frustrated now, but it must be even worse for them. We keep hearing about all that prospect talent, and the team does spend money (though, apparently not very wisely), and yet, the last 2 season had them looking up at the Giants and even the Rockies. And the Giants, who were predicted by many to not only finish in the cellar, but lose 100 games, were reasonably competitive. As bad as this stretch is for Giants’ fans, it’s got to be worse for the Padres.
not to mention the financial flexibility to add cash to a deal in which we eat some of a contract to yield better returns. it’s not about the excitement of winning this year, but the excitement of watching the very beginning of the next era of the Giants. can’t wait!
It’s not going to be a good year but my hope is that next September we have a better idea as to who will be the 2021 core. I’m still up in the air about Davis but love his athleticism. Ditto for Dubon. I’m wondering about the SS we got from the Angels along with Cozart. He has not been mentioned.
Will Wilson is 21 and has 200 ABs at rookie ball. His horizon is several years off.
Wish the Red Sox had never trade Dubon, Shaw, and others to Milwaukee for Thornberg (even if Thornberg had been decent)
We went from one of the worst farm systems to one of the best in 2-3 short years while still being competitive.
I don’t expect anything this year other than seeing all of the young prospects play their butts off. There’s a very good chance that the Shark and Cueto pitch well, well enough that a contender will be knocking in the 2nd half.
I like this re-loading process, it keeps me engaged with the new blood. Been a fan since the 60’s freezing out in left field at the Stick. Still hate the Dodgers and we have the guy who is responsible for a lot of their success today.
Zaidi was a Dodger and an Oakland A’s. Can’t trust his ability to run the Giants. He was the enemy and still is.
SportsGuy, come back to reality. Zaidi is not a double agent. The Dodgers aren’t secretly paying him to blow up the team, and then take whatever secret information he can gather back to LA’s open arms. Capitalism wins out – he’ll do his best to make SF better, if only so he can keeps working, and keep getting raises.
It’s laughable to see commenters trash a Cueto/Shark/Gausman/Smyly/Beede rotation as the worst in baseball, when that rotation is clearly better than several other teams’ intended rotations this year. Beede is likely to break out this season, and has already shown improvement in ST. Both Gausman and Smyly, along with Shark will be moved by the deadline for minor league pieces to augment an improving farm system, especially after the draft class they haul in this summer. The real challenge will be in assembling a bullpen that can develop into a cornerstone in the coming years.
Of course this team won’t contend this year; they were never going to. That’s not the point. The goal is constant improvement and building for 2021-2023, which Zaidi is doing.
Totally agree biffpocoroba, the rotation looks promising, Cueto and shake both will be moved at the deadline, Gausman, Beede and Smyly both looked very good in spring training. Beede showed some flashes last year of dominance and he looked very good the other day, I would be surprised if he sits around a mid 3 era
Well said Biff!
Some say the Dodgers improved, some will argue Zona improved and people believe the Padres will improve thanks to their young talent. So who’s going to be worse in the NL West? Someone has to be? Why can’t it be the Giants? Colorado can’t completely be the consensus cellar dwellers. You know what they say; what goes up must come down.
The down is most likely the Giants.
I think a lot of us would shrug if the Giants are the worst team in the NL West. They are not looking to go to the playoffs this year. It’s a transitional season.
The Padres have nine seasons of losing baseball. Nine seasons in a row of less than .500 ball. Even if they somehow break that pathetic streak they will always be the losers of the NL West.
Agreed; no one will be surprised if the Giants and Rockies battle it out to see who stays out of the cellar this season. But with Moronta returning next season to the bullpen, a Top-10 farm system after this season, a 2021 payroll falling under $100M, and then down to Tampa-level for ’22, coupled with an ownership group that can print money, the Giants’ near-future looks pretty good.
Ride it out. That’s all Giants fans can do right now.