Friday night, the Giants shocked the Already Went to Bed blogger community by selecting the contracts of IF Yangervis Solarte, OF Gerardo Parra, and RP Nick Vincent. None of these adds to the 40-man and Opening Day roster are much of a surprise after their nice springs, but again, I had already gone to bed after a long week and it would’ve been nice to focus on just this trio.
Instead, Farhan Zaidi finally finished upgrading the Giants’ computer systems and managed to make a number of moves on the team’s final day in Arizona before heading back to the Bay Area to play out the last few exhibition games of Spring Training ahead of Thursday’s Opening Day in San Diego.
So, not only do the Giants now have the three non-roster invitees on the roster, they’ve added a couple more Connor Joes into the mix, trading for right-handed outfielder Mike Yastrzemski (grandson of Carl Yastrzemski) from Baltimore and right-handed outfielder Michael Reed from the Twins. Pitcher Tyler Herb went to the Orioles in the former deal and recent addition, OF John Andreoli, went to the Twins in the latter.
Andreoli wasn’t on the Giants’ 40-man roster, so in order to make room for Reed, Steven Okert was designated for assignment. Still with me?
The Giants also released backup catcher hopeful Rene Rivera and traded left-handed outfielder Matt Joyce to the Braves in exchange for cash considerations. Joyce was on the Giants for all of three days, which means he could easily become the answer to one of the toughest trivia questions in Giants history as soon as next week.
So, where does all this leave the 25-man roster? It’s mostly set, but the interesting decisions remaining on the margins are going to tell us a lot about the new people running the show.
C - Buster Posey
1B - Brandon Belt
2B - Joe Panik
SS - Brandon Crawford
3B - Evan Longoria
LF - Mac Williamson
CF - Steven Duggar
RF - Gerardo Parra
C - Aramis Garcia
IF - Yangervis Solarte
OF - Connor Joe
OF - Michael Reed
That’s 12 players and with enough versatility that the OF/IF designations are probably moot. This configuration — and it’s not confirmed that this is the final order; I merely gave preference to recent acquisitions and players with good springs — leaves no room for Alen Hanson or Pablo Sandoval, but it’s not clear why the Giants would need to carry thirteen pitchers when their most pressing need is offense. Is this the best offensive configuration they can break camp with?
SP - Madison Bumgarner
SP - Derek Holland
SP - Dereck Rodriguez
SP - Drew Pomeranz
SP - Jeff Samardzija
CL - Will Smith*
RP - Tony Watson*
RP - Reyes Moronta
RP - Mark Melancon
RP - Sam Dyson
RP - Travis Bergen*
RP - Nick Vincent
Here’s a 12-man pitching staff that omits Trevor Gott, who’s doing well and is out of options. The Giants would like to keep him, but where does he fit? He’d certainly be 13th man on staff if they go with 13 pitchers, but... do they need to carry 13 pitchers? Does Moronta get optioned just because he has options available? That would seemingly go against the idea of fielding the best possible team, as does offering Travis Bergen back to the Blue Jays just to make everyone fit.
Does Mark Melancon get released? I’ve warmed to this possibility a bit more over the last 48 hours mainly because it’s hard to see how his performance and track record as a Giant guarantees him a spot on this team, even if it’s in rebuild mode. Here are the other players left in camp:
Are the Giants better with Mark Melancon over any of these players? This is where it gets tricky. By ZiPS, Melancon is projected for an fWAR of 0.4, which is better than Trevor Gott (0.3), Donovan Solano (0.3), Sam Dyson (0.0), and Pablo Sandoval (-0.4), as good as Henry Ramos, but worse than Vogt (0.9), Suarez (0.6), Stratton (0.5), and Blach (0.5). ZiPS even gave an edge to Derek Law in fWAR (0.5), but that’s the example I’m going to use as my pivot point — the Giants saw Derek Law and Mark Melancon pitch up close and personal in February and March.
They decided that Derek Law wasn’t worth carrying on the 40-man roster back in February and sent him back to the minor league camp after just 3.1 spring innings. Melancon, by comparison, has pitched 6.2 innings this spring and has been twice as bad as Law was. The projection systems aren’t the whole answer, Spring Training stats aren’t either, but taken together, they probably help tell a more convincing story than just one set of data.
Farhan Zaidi has shown that he’s not afraid to make a volume of moves, but he’s now getting to the point where he needs to show that he’s willing to make some big moves.
On that note, back in December, I took a stab at projecting the Opening Day roster, my assumption being that there were too many “givens” in the organization for Farhan Zaidi to do much else beyond shaking things up on the margins. That’s largely been the case, actually, but I was way off in terms of how little money the Giants were going to spend this offseason.
For what it’s worth, here’s mine:
Lineup: Posey, Belt, Panik, Crawford, Longoria, Michael Brantley (LF), Duggar, Domingo Santana (RF) — trade Suarez and Will Smith for him (and maybe 1-2 prospects)
Bench: Sandoval, Hanson, Martin Maldonado (C), Robbie Grossman (LF), Williamson
Rotation: Bumgarner, Yusei Kikuchi, Rodriguez, Trevor Cahill, Samardzija
Bullpen: Melancon, Watson, Dyson, Moronta, Black, Law
So wrong. Just... so wrong. But, also, so were most of us.