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Kelby Tomlinson now a minor league free agent as Giants clear 40-man roster space

The scrappy middle infielder’s designation is part of a larger roster spectacle created by Brian Sabean.

San Francisco Giants Photo Day Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Giants needed room on their 40-man roster and Brian Sabean wasn’t going to wait around for someone else to do it. As Andrew Baggarly reported, Kelby Tomlinson is now a minor league free agent after the Giants outrighted him. Joining Specs in free agency is Miguel “Go Go” Gomez, the switch-hitting middle infielder who appeared in all of 31 games for the Giants over the past two seasons. Here’s the full list of what happened:

Outrighted, cleared waivers and re-assigned to Triple-A

Tyler Herb

Outrighted, cleared waivers and elected free agency

Chase d’Arnaud
Casey Kelly

Outrighted, became minor league free agents

Kelby Tomlinson
Miguel Gomez

All “outrighted” means is that the Giants wanted them off the 40-man roster as quickly as possible. As such, all of these players were eligible to be claimed by the 29 other teams before the Giants’ intended designation with the outright could be completed. Nobody wanted to add Tyler Herb, Chase d’Arnaud, Casey Kelly, Kelby Tomlinson, or Miguel Gomez to their 40-man roster this week, so the Giants’ preferred designations stuck.

They needed to get the 40-man roster under control before the end of the month because at that time, the players on the 60-day disabled list (Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto, Pablo Sandoval, Julian Fernandez, and Jeff Samardzija) need to come off of it. When you add those five back into the mix, the 40-man roster stands at 36.

The Giants didn’t want to owe each of these outrighted players major league minimums next season, they desired space to protect or add would-be Rule 5 draftees or whoever they acquire as free agents or in trade, and their internal evaluations deemed the lot expendable, if claimed, or replaceable in the cases of Tomlinson and Gomez.

That all seems to track with what we’ve seen from most of these players (Kelby Tomlinson’s OPS+ this season was 48!), but it’s funny — not in the “ha ha” way, but like, when a clown dies — that the Giants, a team lacking in just warm bodies across the organization — they struggle to fill their rosters in the lower minors! — would cut three position players. Would it have been nice if the Giants had opted to pay arbitration-eligible Chase d’Arnaud and reward him for a 69 OPS+ this season? Of course not. These are players the team should be looking to move on from, regardless of a rebuild or reload.

I’m just bummed that I didn’t finish his season review before this news came down. Same goes for Miguel Gomez, whose presence you would be forgiven for completely forgetting. Both he and Tomlinson have spent at least seven years in the minor leagues, and although they’ve gotten some time at the big league level, it’s clear their futures lie with a different organization. Could either of them blossom into a strong bench player? Anything’s possible. Dereck Rodriguez became a solid back of the rotation starter just a year removed from becoming a minor league free agent.

For the briefest of moments, there was a thought that maybe, juuuuuust maybe, Tomlinson could be another player off the assembly line in the Brandon Crawford-Joe Panik scrappy infielder who learns how to hit down the line mold. It was never really meant to be, but at least we got some jokes.

And this one...