Chris Shaw looks like he’s figuring Triple-A out. After an extended slump, the Giants’ best power prospect is hitting .291/.326/.528. That’s not so great for the Pacific Coast League, but during his recent 13-game hitting streak, he’s slashing .353/.389/.706. He’s been striking out a ton, even during this hot stretch, but he’s torrid right now.
I would like to see the Giants add another player who can hit.
Andrew Suarez looks like he’s figuring Triple-A out. After a rocky debut for the River Cats, he has a 3.52 ERA for them, and he’s pitched seven innings in each of his last three starts. During those starts, he struck out 21, walked four, and allowed just three runs.
I would like to see the Giants add another player who can pitch.
Ah, but there’s a catch. While the Giants would certainly have the freedom to experiment with their 25-man roster in a lost season, they’re probably worried about their 40-man roster this offseason. There might be some concern about starting the arbitration and service-time clock for Shaw and Suarez, but they aren’t such can’t-miss prospects that the Giants should be worried about that. They’re not up in the majors because a) they still have stuff to work on and b) the Giants don’t want to give up the 40-man roster spot just yet.
Why would the Giants be so protective of that 40-man roster spot? Because of the Rule 5 Draft this winter. Shaw and Suarez won’t be eligible for it. Other prospects will. That will make a big difference in the Giants’ thinking.
Roger wrote about the prospects they might have to worry about for the Rule 5 this offseason:
The most notable of the guys who are going to be Rule 5 eligible this year are probably these guys (some of whom already were last year):
That’s a long list of names. And we should figure out just how many roster spots we’re talking. Here are all the players under contract for next year, and I’ll add Beede and Garcia to the roster because they’re gimmes.
That’s 39 players, which means room will be tight even after the free agents leave. Now, we can identify some players who might not be around.
- Trevor Brown could get DFA’d before the Rule 5, with the Giants signing a backup catcher after
- Chase Johnson, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, could get DFA’d right before the Rule 5, when everyone is either stuffing their rosters with prospects or keeping the spots open for the draft
- Either Dan Slania or Chris Stratton might be on the bubble if the Giants compare them to the prospects they could lose in the Rule 5 Draft
- Jae-gyun Hwang is probably not going to last
- Pablo Sandoval isn’t exactly guaranteed a spot next year
- Gorkys Hernandez has impressed the Giants over the last couple months, but he shouldn’t be a lock
- Same goes for Carlos Moncrief
So if the Giants are merciless, they can get the roster down to 31. If they add Shaw and Suarez, that would go up to 33, which would be plenty of room to add prospects that have a decent chance of tempting another team in the Rule 5 Draft.
Except they also need to keep room for free agents, too.
Here’s a hypothetical, then: The Giants remove Johnson, Slania, Hwang, and Hernandez from the roster. They add Beede and Garcia. That puts them at 37 players. If they add Suarez and Shaw, they would be at 39 players before the Rule 5 Draft. It also means they would have to DFA one of the players they kept if they wanted to sign two free agents to major league contracts this offseason.
None of that sounds like the Giants. And if your answer is to release either Hunter Pence or Denard Span, note that really doesn’t sound like the Giants.
And we haven’t even talked about the prospects who could be exposed to the Rule 5. We’ll go down Roger’s list.
Rodolfo Martinez is a 23-year-old hard-throwing prospect who has struggled with injuries this year, but I could see a team like the Padres nabbing him just to check him out in spring training.
D.J. Snelten is a big, 25-year-old lefty reliever who will almost certainly be added to the September roster and would almost certainly tempt teams in a Rule 5 Draft.
Tyler Rogers (26) is a tall, submarining ball of funk with a low ERA and lower strikeout rate. I have no idea if he would tempt other teams, but the Giants should be interested in looking at him in the majors.
Dusten Knight (26) was having a dominant season in San Jose before holding his own in Triple-A, albeit with a lower strikeout rate.
Sam Coonrod is a 24-year-old right-hander, and he made appearances on Giants prospect lists before this season. He’s struggled this year in Double-A, and it looks like the Giants might be converting him to relief.
Jordan Johnson is a 23-year-old right-handed starter, and he’s struggling with both control and missing bats this year, especially compared to his 2015 season.
Jake McCasland is 25 and not doing much in San Jose as a right-handed starter.
Kelvin Beltre is hitting for just a .677 OPS in Low-A, but he’s only 20 and can play all over the infield.
Raffi Vizcaino is a hard-throwing right-hander, and he’s only 21, but his Low-A season has been underwhelming.
Caleb Simpson is something like a latter-day Ray Black, striking out the world when he isn’t walking it. He’ll be 26 next year, and I can’t see any team keeping that career 6.8 BB/9 on a major league roster.
Jonah Arenado, besides being the guy who stole the Giants’ secret plans to pitch Nolan Arenado down the middle, is also a 22-year-old infielder repeating in San Jose. He wasn’t doing much for most of the season, but he’s hit .441/.477/.678 in his last 65 plate appearances, boosting his season numbers to a respectable level.
Dylan Davis hit 26 homers last year, but the 23-year-old has been sucked into the black hole of the Eastern League this year, hitting just .219/.280/.351. Still, someone could love the power and the youth and hope that a year in the majors would do him some good.
If I had to guess, I’d say the Giants will add Snelten to the roster and possibly Coonrod and/or Rogers. And of the eight players on the bubble up there, I’ll guess the Giants get rid of five. That would still put them at 39 players on the 40-man, while still exposing players who have a decent shot to be taken, like Knight.
That’s all without adding Shaw or Suarez.
I would be surprised if the Giants added Shaw or Suarez this season, even if it would make sense for them to get a showcase in the majors. It would create too many headaches for the team when it comes to logistics.
You can understand why they let the Pirates have Kontos now, too. It’s going to be a mess. The irony of this team that’s about to lose 100 games is that it’s so valuable, you have to protect it. That’s almost funny! Mostly annoying. But almost funny!