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Guessing the Giants’ bench after the Nick Hundley and Jae-gyun Hwang signings

Who will be on the Giants’ bench? Probably some baseball players and coaches, but let’s not get technical.

2014 Asian Games - Day 9 Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

It all seemed so simple a couple weeks ago. Trevor Brown? Sure, okay. Ehire Adrianza? Sure, whatever. Maybe I was lulled into a false sense of complacency because I write about the team every day, or maybe I’m just bad at what I do. I guess we’ll never know! But the bench for the ol’ San Francisco Giants looks a lot different than I was expecting.

My guess at the bench:

Ehire Adrianza - SS
Mac Williamson - OF (platoon)
Gorkys Hernandez - OF
Conor Gillaspie - PH
Tim Federowicz - C

You idiot. Adrianza was designated for assignment to make room for a new backup catcher, and that was after the Giants took a fascinating risk on a power-hitting Korean star whose market slipped a little. The state of the bench is a mess, but in a good way.

Let’s make some assumptions about the bench after these moves.

1. Nick Hundley is the backup catcher
Not controversial. The Giants are going to pay him close to $3 million after luxury taxes, and he has the experience and power they were looking for. I just feel bad for Tim Federowicz, as well as me, who just learned how to spell Tim Federowicz.

2. Eduardo Nuñez allows the Giants to worry less about a dedicated backup shortstop
Brandon Crawford needs a day off? Slide Nuñez over and put Conor Gillaspie or Jae-gyun Hwang at third. This isn’t a huge concern, considering that Kelby Tomlinson can also play Nuñezian defense and is also qualified to be on any of these bench permutations. But just in case you were feeling jumpy and wanted a bench with fewer infielders, Nuñez can help.

3. A dedicated backup center fielder is a must
Gorkys Hernandez isn’t as entrenched as Hundley, but he’s pretty close. The only other candidate on the 40-man roster would be Orlando Calixte, and he’s not very experienced in center at all (just 34 games there in his career, all in 2016). There are other players in the minors — Austin Slater, Steven Dugger — as well as free agent signing Justin Ruggiano, but they would need to be added to the roster.

The Giants could pretend to get by with Jarrett Parker and/or Mac Williamson. I just don’t see why they would.

4. Even though Mac Williamson has options, he’ll be on the bench
Seems like a safe assumption, even with Michael Morse lurking and smelling like sweet dreams from another era.

Those are the only assumptions? Well, that’s easy. Easy-ish, at least. We start with this:

C - Nick Hundley
INF - ?
INF/OF - ?
CF reserve - ?
Wild card - ?

The wild card could be Matt Stairs. Or, more realistically, Michael Morse. It could be someone without much of a position at all, just there for their power.

That just doesn’t sound like a Giants kind of bench, though. Not one that I’m used to, at least.

There are too many permutations to go through each one, but I think you can break them down like this:

The Best Player Available

C - Nick Hundley
OF - Jarrett Parker/Mac Williamson
CF - Gorky Hernandez
INF - Kelby Tomlinson
INF - Jae-gyun Hwang

I almost want to swap Austin Slater and Hernandez, but that’s probably getting too cute. Hernandez is at least twice as good as one Gorky, and he’s a fine fifth outfielder.

I’m assuming that Hwang is better than Conor Gillaspie because I’m a) a heretic and b) always looking for those birds in the bush. The ones in your hand are so very dull. Note that this bench is not likely.

Veterans, ahoy!

C - Nick Hundley
OF - Michael Morse
CF - Justin Ruggiano
INF - Jimmy Rollins
INF - Conor Gillaspie

It’s not the most likely bench, but just look at it. You could totally see it happening. The Giants have been veteran-friendly for two decades now, so it’s not like I’m being cynical about this. Some strong spring performances would be all it takes.

The likeliest bench

C - Nick Hundley
OF - Jarrett Parker/Mac Williamson
CF - Gorkys Hernandez
INF - Jae-gyun Hwang
INF - Conor Gillaspie

Hwang has limited experience at short in the event of an emergency, but again, Nuñez could slide over in almost all other scenarios, which means Hwang and Gillaspie aren’t mutually exclusive. This bench has more power than Giants benches of the past. It might have more power than the lineup, but now we’re down a dark rabbit hole.

Who’s hosed in this? Kelby Tomlinson, of course, who is more than qualified for a bench job. That’s the curse of options, apparently.

The battle for me, then, would be Gorkys Hernandez vs. Orlando Calixte, because if the latter has a very nice spring, especially defensively at several positions, that would give the Giants a lot more flexibility off the bench than just Hernandez. The decision to add him to the 40-man roster right before the Rule 5 Draft makes a lot more sense.

Worth repeating: We’re a long way from, “Uhhhhh, what do you mean the 41-year-old shortstop is hurt? Better call up this random guy from Single-A to replace him!”, which actually happened in 2008. The Giants have options, and they’ll almost certainly wait until the end of March to figure it all out. The signing of Hundley helps clarify everything, though, and the more I look at it, the more I can see Hwang making the roster without pushing anyone surprising out.