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We are only two weeks away from the start of the 2019 baseball season and some question marks surrounding the Giants still remain. After missing out on Bryce Harper, the team has yet to address the outfield situation or lack thereof. There’s still time for Farhan Zaidi to make a move for an outfielder, but right now the roster is beginning to take shape.
Coming into this season, what we can be certain about is the Giants loaded bullpen, the top half of the starting rotation, and the infield. Zaidi and the Giants have done a great job of establishing depth at the bottom of the roster and in different levels of the farm system.
Here’s our prediction for what the 25-man roster will look like come opening day on March 28.
Catchers: (two players): Buster Posey, Rene Rivera (Cuts: Stephen Vogt, Aramis Garcia)
Obviously, Buster Posey will be the teams starting catcher, but in camp, there is a very competitive battle for the backup catcher position. Last season we saw a lot of positives from rookie Aramis Garcia in his limited time at the major league level. After signings of Stephen Vogt and Rene Rivera, it’s possible that the rookie could lose out to one of the two veterans. All three of Garcia, Vogt, and Rivera have had strong springs thus far, and due to any potential unforeseen injuries to the catcher position, could all see time at the big league level this year. Because Garcia was brought up at the end of last season, all of his options still remain, which is why the team can still send him down, unlike the other two. Both Vogt and Rivera provide veteran experience behind Posey, similar to that of Nick Hundley last season.
Outfield (five players): Steven Duggar, Mac Williamson, Gerardo Parra, Cameron Maybin, Drew Ferguson (Cuts: Mike Gerber)
The difference between the depth on the pitching staff versus the depth in the outfield is that the outfield lacks starting caliber players. Mac Williamson, Steven Duggar, and Gerardo Parra will almost certainly make the roster out of camp. Usually, the Giants like to carry a couple of extra outfielders, and if they continue this trend, it will provide an opportunity for players such as Drew Ferguson, Cameron Maybin, and Mike Gerber.
Infielders (six players): Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, Pablo Sandoval, Yangervis Solarte (Cuts: Alen Hanson, Donovan Solano, Levi Michael)
Another area of strength for the Giants last season was the infield. Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford, and Evan Longoria will certainly take the four starting spots. Behind them, the team will carry two, maybe three backup infielders. Pablo Sandoval will almost certainly make the roster, while names such as Yangervis Solarte, Alen Hanson, Abital Avelino, Breyvic Valera, and Donovan Solano remain in the mix for backup jobs. After a strong showing last season, it’s possible that Hanson could be on the outside looking in due to Sandoval and Solarte’s positional flexibility.
Starting rotation (five players): Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija, Dereck Rodriguez, Derek Holland, Drew Pomeranz (Cuts: Tyler Beede, Tyler Herb, Andrew Suarez, Garrett Williams)
With offseason additions of Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz, the Giants starting rotation has limited spots available. It’s very likely that the top three spots will be given to Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija, and Dereck Rodriguez. If that’s the case, it leaves Pomeranz, Holland, and Stratton to battle it out for the final two spots in the rotation. If the team wants to keep all three on the active roster (which is likely), they may decide to move one of those arms to the bullpen to begin the season, and that arm might just be Stratton.
Bullpen (seven players): Will Smith, Tony Watson, Reyes Moronta, Mark Melancon, Chris Stratton, Sam Dyson, Ty Blach (Cuts: Fernando Abad, Travis Bergen, Ray Black, Trevor Gott, Kieran Lovegrove, Conner Menez, Steven Okert, Tyler Rogers, Dan Slania, Nick Vincent, Sam Wolff)
The Giants bullpen situation is a mess. Luckily, it’s a good kind of a mess. The bullpen was a strength for the Giants last season and only got better this offseason. It’s been rumored that the Giants may want to trade out of their bullpen surplus to acquire an outfielder, but right now the team has some important decisions to make regarding their relievers.
We can almost certainly pencil in Will Smith, Tony Watson, Reyes Moronta, and Mark Melancon into bullpen spots. Three of those four names pitched very well last season, while Melancon was a completely different story. The very expensive Giants reliever has yet to have success with the team in his first couple of seasons. Battling injuries and inconsistency, Melancon is someone that many people would like to see moved or released.
If the team decides to keep those four arms, it’s likely that they will be joined by a few more, such as Ty Blach, Chris Stratton, and Sam Dyson. With Bruce Bochy confirming Rodriguez in the rotation to start the season, it presents a complicated scenario for Stratton, who is out of options. The Giants need to have him on their opening day roster if they want to keep him.
Giants 25-man Opening Day roster
Infielders: Belt, Panik, Crawford, Longoria, Sandoval, Solarte
Outfielders: Williamson, Duggar, Parra, Maybin, Ferguson
Rotation: Bumgarner, Samardzija, Rodriguez, Holland, Pomeranz
Bullpen: Smith, Watson, Moronta, Melancon, Stratton, Dyson, Blach
Catchers: Posey, Rivera