With Opening Day just eight days from now, the Giants’ Spring Training bullpen has been narrowed down to Will Smith, Tony Watson, Mark Melancon, Sam Dyson, Reyes Moronta (the subject of yesterday’s community projection), Nick Vincent, Travis Bergen, Trevor Gott, and Steven Okert, with swingman/starters Chris Stratton, Ty Blach, and the Giants’ own Dallas Keuchel in waiting, Andrew Suarez. Ray Black and Tyler Beede had strong Spring Trainings, but were sent down because they have options remaining, and that’s all that matters when you’re trying to build depth.
And building depth is what this entire season is about. The Giants have been overwhelmed by losing flood waters and Farhan Zaidi’s first order of business has been to bring in as many sandbags as possible to stop the flood waters from destroying everything. Then he’ll get to the work of drying up the water damaged property (your Jeff Samardzija, your Mark Melancon) and eventually, replacing everything that got warped and moldy (everybody else), but for now, he’s just got to keep the business open for the next six months. So, keeping as many quality players in the mix for as long as possible is the goal.
All players on 40-man rosters get three option years. Use an option and it’s good for the entire year; so, we’ll see Ray Black and Tyler Beede up at some point, and then they’ll probably get sent back down at some point before being recalled.
Black would seemingly fit the mold of a modern day reliever — he throws 100 mph with ease — and the Giants don’t have too many of those just lying around. Beede has turned around his entire prospect stock (13 strikeouts in 10.1 innings), which is very encouraging for him and the team as they need some sort of depth in the starting pitching department. It’s possible that Beede might fall into some sort of ‘tweener between starter and reliever much like Shaun Anderson seemed to towards the end of last year, but it’s worth seeing if he can take some of his confidence from spring and transfer it into a strong minor league performance as a starter.
Which brings us back to the remaining pitching options. There were a bunch of articles yesterday that covered the option situation. Steven Okert, Trevor Gott, and Chris Stratton are out of ‘em, but the Giants might not want to carry 13 pitchers in order to keep them and Nick Vincent and Travis Bergen (whom they must keep on the roster all year long because of his Rule 5 status or else offer him back to the Blue Jays).
“But why not just cut Mark Melancon?” you might ask. Well, that would be irresponsible. Mark Melancon has two years left on his deal. Relievers are highly volatile. He’s been healthy, which is good, but ineffective, which is not really a strong indicator of future performance as it’s only Spring Training.
Melancon v Venditte
And then there’s this little troll gem:
Golly I wonder what Giants fans will think if the team carries Melancon as a 13th pitcher, goes short on the bench and cuts Pablo Sandoval as a result. https://t.co/DUiIMLTd4R— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) March 20, 2019
I think it’d be disruptive to cut either Melancon or Pablo Sandoval, to the point that we might see Zaidi take a different kind of risk. Nick Vincent can opt out of his deal if the team tells him he’s not going to make the Opening Day roster, but the Giants have traditionally been able to convince some of these players to stick around in the minors because it’s known they’ll be needed sooner rather than later. This seems like the kind of move a new exec might employ rather than risk pissing off a bunch of the established group and lose a much better reliever (Gott) in the process.
Therefore, here’s my prediction (barring a trade):
Bumgarner, Rodriguez, Holland, Samardzija, Pomeranz
Smith, Watson, Dyson, Moronta, Bergen, Melancon, Gott
Ty Blach, Nick Vincent*
WAIVED (could still clear waivers and accept minor league assignments if not claimed)
Steven Okert, Chris Stratton
Who are your guys?