The Giants created a couple holes — their rotation without Tyler Anderson is Kevin Gausman, Johnny Cueto and a few hopefuls but not definites — but also roster space to fill those holes.
In nontendering five players Wednesday, including what would have been their only returning lefty starter and infielder Daniel Robertson, they cleared five spots on the 40-man on the same day as free agency was juiced up by more than 50 nontendered players hitting the market.
Some especially should intrigue San Francisco, which has needs in the rotation, bullpen (from the right side), and preferably a lefty-hitting outfielder. A left-handed-hitting catcher and infielder also would be helpful.
Which of the newly minted free agents might make some sense?
Tony Wolters: The Giants would like a lefty-hitting complement to Buster Posey who would allow Joey Bart to get more reps in the minors. Wolters, a 28-year-old lefty-hitting catcher from Southern California, will be worth a look. He’s known for being a defensive-minded receiver who was praised by the Colorado staff, though most advanced analytics are not overly friendly. He is typically among the bottom half of framers, registering -1.7 last season (via Fangraphs), which was 12th worst in baseball.
Offensively, he doesn’t have the pop the Giants crave, although his plate discipline appears steady. In 2019, he walked 36 times and struck out 68 in a season he slashed .262/.337/.329.
David Dahl: How is a 26-year-old who was an All-Star in 2019 suddenly a free agent? The Rockies have blamed the financials of the pandemic, but even so, Dahl might have settled at $2 or $3 million.
Their loss could be the Giants’ gain. Dahl has the capability of playing all three outfield positions, though the Giants ideally would like a truer center fielder in tandem with the righty Mauricio Dubon. The lefty-hitting Dahl has excellent pop but a history of injuries, including a shoulder issue that limited his 2020 to 24 ineffective games. He underwent surgery after the season and is expected to be ready by spring training, where the Giants could have an awfully enticing outfield to play against righty starters: Alex Dickerson, Dahl and Mike Yastrzemski.
Kyle Schwarber: The defense is the issue, as it was with the Cubs, and he’s probably a better fit with an American League team (unless the NL again adopts the DH, which is still unknown). But someone with his pedigree — fourth-overall pick in 2014, a 38-homer season in 2019 with lefty power that plays anywhere and who is just 27 — should get 30 teams interested. The Giants’ interest in Schwarber would be tied with their faith in Yastrzemski being able to play center, and he has looked far better in right.
Eddie Rosario: Another corner-outfield type when a true center fielder is the better fit. But the 29-year-old Rosario has all the pop you could ask for, hitting 13 homers in the abbreviated season and 32 a year prior. The plate discipline likely will scare the Giants off, though, with a career on-base percentage of just .310.
Nomar Mazara: He’s been around a while and likely will be joining a third team, yet the lefty-hitting right fielder is just 25. In each of his seasons before last, he had hit at least 19 homers. Yet Mazara has never put together all the tools that made him a star prospect who debuted at 20, and the Giants’ corner-outfield spots are crowded with lefty hitters.
Tyler Naquin: Another former first-round pick, Naquin is another in the more-corner-than-center-field bucket. Yet his arm is regarded to be tremendous and he hits righties far better than lefties; against righties in his career, he’s slashing .281/.329/.454. The fit is not obvious, but the Giants would love high-upside guys to create spring competition and dilemmas.
Archie Bradley: The No. 7 pick in the 2011 draft has excellent stuff that has played up in recent years since moving out of the rotation. He’s posted strong, if not excellent, seasons since the 2017 transition with a mid-90s fastball that he throws a ton. He could be the club’s closer and also could fill a role Tony Watson had occupied: a former starter turned reliever who shows the ropes for the call-ups in the same position.
Matt Wisler: A surprise nontender from Minnesota, the 28-year-old posted a 1.07 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings last season. His average fastball was actually slightly down to 91.9 mph, but he virtually only throws a nasty slider. The peripherals are not as friendly as the traditional stats — his 3.35 FIP should be mildly concerning — but it’s notable the Giants just plucked the Twins’ J.P. Martinez as their new assistant pitching coach. He’ll have intel on Wisler.
Matt Andriese: The Southern Cal native is another former starter with good stuff though middling results. The 31-year-old who came up with Tampa and has bounced around in recent seasons has a 4.65 ERA in the past two years with the Diamondbacks and Angels, though his 112 strikeouts in 102 2/3 innings is solid. He’s the type of righty arm the Giants lacked last season.
Ryan Tepera: Nationally known for being an accidental MVP vote-getter, the veteran righty turned in a fine age-32 season with the Cubs last year, with a 3.92 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings. He threw his mid-90s fastball less than ever, relying more on his cutter, a trend the Giants believe in.