Happy Wednesday, San Francisco Giants fans.
We’re just a hair over three months away from Opening Day, when the Giants will kick things off by visiting the New York Yankees, who employ the biggest free agent that the Giants tried and failed to sign (Aaron Judge), and the biggest free agent that they lost (Carlos Rodón). Lovely!
The Giants roster is starting to come into focus, and we can identify a lot of the players who will make the Opening Day roster. But I want you to identify more than a lot of them. I want you to identify all of them!
But there are a few questions and talking points that stand between us and some official predictions.
What to make of Tommy La Stella
La Stella’s Giants tenure has been disappointing and unhealthy. There’s a lot of logic in thinking the Giants would part ways with him. Yet the beat reporters have insisted that the Giants are still optimistic about La Stella, and will give him a chance to prove his health and earn a role in 2023.
That’s supported by the fact that the only left-handed hitting non-1B infielders on the 40-man roster are La Stella, Brandon Crawford, Isan Díaz, and Brett Wisely. Díaz has 501 career plate appearances and a 52 OPS+, which means he’s roughly been Madison Bumgarner on offense. Wisely has yet to make his MLB debut and has just 23 plate appearances in AAA. It’s hard to see the Giants rolling the Opening Day dice with either of those two, but it’s also hard to see them marching into the season with zero left-handed hitters who can play second or third base. Then again, Wilmer Flores and J.D. Davis hit righties as well as they hit lefties last year, and David Villar did the same in the Minors. Perhaps the Giants are saying to hell with the platoon.
Late Night LaMonte
With the addition of Mitch Haniger (an everyday player) and Michael Conforto (almost surely an everyday player, and a left-handed hitter), who can slot next to Mike Yastrzemski in the outfield while Joc Pederson mans the designated hitter role, Wade has become a first baseman who can play the outfield in a pinch, instead of the other way around.
Is that enough to keep the roster door open for a player who hit just .207/.305/.359 a year ago, and is out of options? If the Giants were to re-sign Brandon Belt, that would surely spell the end of Wade’s Giants tenure. But I don’t see them entering the season without a lefty first baseman, especially given the lack of lefties at other infield spots.
So many RHH infielders
Wilmer Flores. J.D. Davis. Thairo Estrada. David Villar.
That’s a whole hell of a lot of right-handed hitting second and third basemen. Do they all make the team? Do the Giants trade one of them? Does Villar start the season in Sacramento?
If you add Crawford, La Stella, and Wade to that crop of infielders, that puts the Giants at seven position players. Pederson, Yastrzemski, Conforto, Haniger, and Austin Slater makes 12. Joey Bart and Austin Wynns (or another backup catcher) makes 14, which is already making for a position player-dominant 26-man roster, and that’s before mentioning Blake Sabol, who gets returned if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster.
It seems someone has to go.
Rounding out the bullpen
The Giants have seven starting pitchers: Logan Webb, Alex Cobb, Alex Wood, Anthony DeSclafani, Sean Manaea, Ross Stripling, and Jakob Junis. If we assume all seven stick around, and if all seven are healthy enough to be on the Opening Day roster, and if they stick with 14 position players and just 12 pitchers, then you can easily fill in the seven-man bullpen: two of the aforementioned five starters, plus the Rogers twins, Camilo Doval, Scott Alexander, and John Brebbia.
But that’s a whole lot of ifs. An injury, a trade, or the desire for a more balanced roster construction means at least one more arm in the bullpen. Who will it be?
Any more additions?
There aren’t many players left unsigned for the Giants to pursue, though two would be pretty notable: Belt and Carlos Correa. Will the Giants sign either of them? Will they sign someone else? An addition to the roster could change a lot.
Well, that’s enough blabbering. Predict your 26-man Opening Day roster in the comments.