The Giants’ bullpen has a few spots locked up, but spring training will be lively trying to pare down the Opening Day relievers. The starting rotation has four assured members and Logan Webb in “the driver’s seat” for the fifth spot.
And that’s just about where the drama ends.
As much as the Giants love competition and feel it breeds better players, there will not be many neck-and-neck races around the diamond and in the outfield.
“I think our position-player group is fairly set,” Gabe Kapler said on a Zoom call Friday. “There’s always going to be competition — we’re going to create some competition and challenge our players with it — but I do think our position-player group speaks for itself.”
There is little wiggle room at catcher with Buster Posey and Curt Casali, with the most curiosity emerging from whether Joey Bart or Chadwick Tromp gets the lion’s share of Triple-A reps to start the season. After Bart’s rough debut hitting last year, the club wants the top prospect to get more reps in the minors.
With Brandon Belt, Donovan Solano, Evan Longoria, Brandon Crawford, Tommy La Stella and Wilmer Flores, there isn’t a ton of doubt concerning how the Giants’ infield will sit April 1. Jason Vosler is the only other true infielder on the 40-man roster, and he still has options. The biggest hole resides behind Crawford, with neither Solano nor Mauricio Dubon showing he can be a natural fill-in.
Speaking of Dubon, he, Alex Dickerson, Mike Yastrzemski, Darin Ruf and Austin Slater make up the most likely outfield arrangement when camp breaks, with the Giants saying Yastrzemski and Slater have the potential to be center-field backups. LaMonte Wade Jr., Steven Duggar and Jaylin Davis represent the organization’s depth, all with obvious upsides but none having proven they can be major league hitters yet.
The competition around Scottsdale will come from plenty of unique drills and challenges from the coaching staff — including positional changes. A year ago at this time, Dubon was rushing to break in an outfield glove he hadn’t used before. Now the experimenting will be going on in the infield.
The 26-year-old came up as a middle infielder and played most of his 2019 as a second baseman. His center-field looks have been impressive. Can he add third base to his repertoire?
“It wouldn’t shock me to see him make the push for some work on the dirt as well. We know that he can play shortstop. We’ve explored the possibility and we’ll get him some reps at third base during this camp,” Kapler said during a news conference preceding camp opening. “…So [we will] use this camp to see what the best way to deploy Mauricio is, and he’s earned the opportunity to be viewed as an option in several different places on the diamond.”
The Giants were lacking behind Longoria last season but have added La Stella and Vosler as lefty complements. If Longoria goes down, though, they could use a righty hitter able to play the spot — a job Flores did not look comfortable with in brief moments last year.
It’s one more move to shore up the depth on the Giants. While they do not have the high-end talent the Padres and Dodgers possess, they do appear pretty well-stocked if/when injuries arise.