The Giants have made a few ripples but no splashes this offseason, a fact dissatisfied fans have noticed after a 77-85 season.
Five days before pitchers and catchers report to Scottsdale for spring training, though, Farhan Zaidi is pleased with where the organization stands.
The Giants have targeted a more veteran rotation, with a plethora of young options to help later in the season or serve as relievers. With a 26th roster spot this year, they have beefed up on platoon infielders, including the nearly done signing of Wilmer Flores and under-the-radar agreements with guys like Brandon Guyer and Darin Ruf. The bullpen, with just Tony Watson and Trevor Gott seemingly guaranteed slots, is completely wide open, but Zaidi likes the depth.
Another quiet offseason — at least at the front-end of the 40-man roster, if not the back-end — but one Zaidi stands behind.
“I think we always envisioned bringing in some veterans to help fortify the rotation and the position-player side and having [Kevin] Gausman and [Drew] Smyly compete for rotation spots, having Johnny Cueto healthy, you feel good about that group,” Zaidi said in a 30-minute sit down with reporters at Oracle Park on Thursday.
“In the bullpen, especially after the trades last deadline, we had a lot of guys come up that we’re pretty excited about and want to see those guys continue to get opportunity. … Some of the guys that have been starters in the minors for us I think have an opportunity to be impact relievers so I think we’re going to see a pretty young bullpen. I think back to my time in Oakland, and we had a lot of young bullpens there that were really effective.”
Those relievers could include Shaun Anderson, who transitioned from the rotation to the bullpen last season to great effect, though will enter camp as a starting option. Tyler Beede, Logan Webb, Dereck Rodriguez, Conner Menez and Andrew Suarez are just a few more of those options, with Zaidi mentioning the possibility of a “100-120-inning reliever,” who would fill two- or three-innings gaps in a season without true matchup relievers.
As for the position players, “just having competition at different spots. Sometimes when you’re bringing veterans in on non-roster deals, it makes some of your other players feel like, ‘I still have a chance to make this team. They haven’t given out a guaranteed contract with veterans locked in at a certain spot,'” Zaidi said, perhaps thinking of Mauricio Dubon, who will be challenged around the infield (and outfield), and the entire inexperienced outfield, which has not seen a major addition. “And I think that’s kind of energizing to the whole group. So this is kind of where we wanted to be, to get deeper, create some competition, but still create an opportunity for some of our younger guys to step up and take another step forward.”
Zaidi has not splurged for the likes of Nick Castellanos (Reds), the hunt for a slugging corner outfielder coming up empty. He did not blow Madison Bumgarner (Diamondbacks) away, with the only to-be multiyear deal going to Flores, a platoon infielder.
As the division has beefed up — did you hear the Dodgers will be adding Mookie Betts to their lineup? — the Giants are banking on competition bringing the best out of a group that has, generously, a long shot at competing for a playoff spot.
Still, Zaidi is pleased where the Giants stand on Feb. 6, with the additions still to come likely more of the same: fliers on platoon possibilities.
The competition will abound at camp, though the Giants won’t be competitive during the year. If they’re timing their bulking up for next offseason, Zaidi is content where they are in this rebuild, even if he won’t use that word.