The good news for the Giants came packaged with the bad: Major league teams would not have to pare down rosters to 26 players in a few weeks, allowing extra space on a team that values every bullpen arm and platoon advantage.
While the rosters would not need to be further trimmed, the Giants wouldn’t be able to avoid Thursday’s cutdown.
The Athletic reported the developments, which are not official, and included taxi squads ballooning from three players to five. For the Giants, it comes down to choosing two players Thursday who can be shuffled to that taxi squad, to Sacramento or perhaps out of the organization.
Even during a pandemic that must have Farhan Zaidi thinking twice about transactions, the roster will be a living thing. Beyond these moves, decisions must be made soon about Yolmer Sanchez and Jarlin Garcia, who were both earmarked for roster spots before medical issues sidelined them both. If and when the Giants deem it’s Joey Bart time, the spotlight will turn to the Giants’ catching situation.
Here’s a look at a few of the possible victims of Thursday’s roster crunch, when 30 will become 28:
Steven Duggar: On Tuesday, the outfielder revealed that after spending much of his spring training 1.0 with a throw-back, tall and narrow stance, he has reverted since because it just wasn’t working for him.
“Let’s face it: I just didn’t have a good camp,” Duggar said of the Scottsdale chapter.
During the break and with the hitting coaches’ blessings and help, he got back to his smaller look and began hitting toward the end of summer training. He thought he would crack the Opening Day roster but had to be called up later, his best game coming Tuesday, when he bounced a ball off the top of the left-field wall with a backspin that would make Tiger Woods envious, winding up with a double and not home run.
Without Billy Hamilton around, there is a bit less competition for a speedy, lefty-hitting outfielder. The Giants have Alex Dickerson and Mike Yastrzemski as their only lefty outfield bats, which further helps Duggar’s case. As does Mauricio Dubon, who can play center, not hitting so far.
Mauricio Dubon: For so much of the offseason, the camps and the break, the focus was on Dubon’s defense and whether he could handle center field — which he has mostly affirmed he can.
His bat has been slower to say it’s major league-ready, though.
After debuting with promise last year, Dubon has not hit well, leading to three straight days out of the lineup in what Gabe Kapler called a “mental reset.” He returned Tuesday and went 1-for-3 with two strikeouts, then was missing from the lineup against righty Jon Gray on Wednesday.
The Giants love his versatility, but it would not be shocking if there isn’t room with Mike Yastrzemski, Donovan Solano and Brandon Crawford — his competition around the field — all needed.
Pablo Sandoval: This would represent a more resolute decision than the others, as Sandoval would have to consent to being optioned or be designated for assignment.
Kapler has said the Panda is working on incorporating more of his lower body into his swing, and his at-bats have looked better of late, with three hard-hit balls Tuesday. But he’s 3-for-26 (.115) for the year, and the Giants have trusted Wilmer Flores more at third base and Flores’ bat more against righty pitchers.
Sandoval was back in the lineup for a second straight day Wednesday, the Giants showing some faith.
Andrew Suarez: Not including Tyler Anderson, the Giants have six lefties in their bullpen for a series with a Rockies team that can bunch lefties in the lineup. The Giants will head to Los Angeles next, which has more balanced firepower.
Suarez was called up Monday for the series and has not yet appeared in a game. He is a lengthier option than, say, Sam Selman, also a recent call-up but who has impressed early on.
The Giants will want every bullpen arm against the Dodgers and then the Astros, though, which helps Suarez’s case.