2019 Giants Position Preview: Lefty relievers to be an area of strength


2019 Giants Position Preview: Lefty relievers to be an area of strength

SAN FRANCISCO -- This offseason has not been one for additions. Somewhat surprisingly, it also has not featured many familiar players headed out the door. 

The Giants spent a lot of time talking to teams about Will Smith and Tony Watson, their two dominant left-handed relievers, but a day from FanFest, both are still on the roster. For an organization that won three titles in part because of left-handed relief, that makes this position group one of the few where the Giants can match up with any team in the league. 

It’s a deep group, and it’s the last to be profiled in this series of spring training previews. If you missed it, here are the catchers, corner infielders, middle infielders, outfielders, starting pitchers and right-handed relievers. Now, left-handed relievers … 

Returning: Will Smith, Tony Watson, Ty Blach, Steven Okert, Josh Osich. 

Smith excelled as the closer last season and should open the season in that role if he makes it through camp in orange and black. Watson, signed late last offseason, was one of the bargains of that market and had a huge first year with the Giants. He’ll be back in that late-innings role, helping to get the ball to Smith. 

Blach has made 39 starts over the past three years, but his future now seems to be entirely as a long reliever/swingman. It’ll be interesting to see if Farhan Zaidi and new staffers have a different plan for Blach, who has proven to be a versatile and durable piece. If the Giants ever do go with an opener or piggyback starters, Blach could be part of that mix. 

Okert and Osich had opposite seasons in 2018. Okert wasn’t seen until late, but was really sharp in 10 September appearances. He was someone who stood out to coaches during that brutal final month. Osich might have been the most dominant reliever in camp in March, but had a rough April after making the Opening Day roster. He was sent down and never made it back up. 

The departed

There’s only one left-handed pitcher who took the mound at any point of the 2018 Giants season and is not returning: D.J. Snelten -- The Big Snelt -- who threw 4 1/3 innings early in the season before getting let go. 

Additions: Pat Venditte, Travis Bergen.

Venditte, the switch-pitcher, goes down as the first free agent signing of the Zaidi Era. He has been better from the left side, holding left-handed hitters to a .583 OPS.

Bergen is a Rule 5 pick, so he has to make the Opening Day roster to stick, but he has an intriguing background. With a fastball in the low 90s and deceptive delivery, Bergen struck out 12 batters per nine innings during his minor league career with the Blue Jays. He has a 1.27 minor league ERA, but was slowed by Tommy John surgery in 2016. 

Non-roster invitees: 

None for this group. 


Bruce Bochy loves to play the matchups, and if this group stays intact through the next seven weeks, he’ll be a happy man on Opening Day. Smith and Watson are a strong duo at the back end, and just about everyone else in this group is capable of winning a bullpen job. The Giants plan to have at least three left-handed starters, and should have that many southpaw relievers. It’s possible they’ll open the year with four, too, if you count Venditte. And this doesn't even account for the fact that Andrew Suarez could begin the year in Triple-A or the bullpen. 

[RELATED: Giants could seek help from lesser-known free agents]

Of course, like with many of the other position groups we’ve looked at, this one could be torn apart if the Giants get the right trade offers. They’ll continue to listen on Smith and Watson, and if this team isn’t contending, Smith -- a free agent at the end of the year -- is a lock to go. For now, he’s the last line of the defense for a group of relievers that looks to be in good shape. 

As Giants wait for Harper decision, they continue to discuss trade options


As Giants wait for Harper decision, they continue to discuss trade options

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For every move the Giants have made over the past week, the response from an anxious fan base has been the same.

“Uhhh, that dude isn’t Bryce Harper.”

The biggest name on the market remains on the market, but what do the Giants do if Harper chooses the Phillies or Nationals or Padres or some mystery team? Farhan Zaidi is working on Plan B, too, and that could involved remaining free agents or trades. The Giants do still need help in their outfield. 

“We’ve had trade conversations with teams about certain players that started in 2018 that kind of are continuing now,” Zaidi said. “It’s a little bit of a function of the slow market. I think with anything that’s a hypothetical, it’s a good idea to have alternatives and not put all your eggs in any one basket.”

The Giants won’t reach into any other basket until Harper has made a decision. There’s no available player that would match that production, but this offseason started with more humble goals and there are plenty of options on the trade market. If the Giants don’t get Harper, they seem well positioned to quickly pivot. 

In the meantime, Zaidi is padding out the rest of the roster. All offseason, he said he wanted catching depth. Stephen Vogt and Rene Rivera signed in the span of four days. Zaidi wanted a versatile infield piece, too, and Yangervis Solarte is on his way. He wanted a couple of outfielders, and Gerardo Parra fills one hole. 

Zaidi will always tinker. That’s his nature. But he doesn’t want to add too many more players on non-roster deals because he wants the recent additions and the younger players in house already to have a real opportunity to compete this spring. That was promised to the players already here, so don’t expect too many more who fit the mold of a Parra or Solarte. 

“We want competition but don’t want this to be a reality show or tryout camp,” Zaidi said. “You try to draw the line between feeling good about the guys you have but also not going overboard.”

Report: Giants agree to minor league deal with veteran outfielder Craig Gentry


Report: Giants agree to minor league deal with veteran outfielder Craig Gentry

Well, it happened. The Giants signed an outfielder who previously played in the D.C. area.

It's not Bryce Harper.

The Giants have agreed to a minor league deal with veteran Craig Gentry according to Andersen Pickard of MLB Daily Dish:

MLB Trade Rumors confirmed the report

The deal also includes an invite to spring training.

NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic reports Gentry will not be in big league camp. He will head to minor league camp, but could play in a couple of Cactus League games. 

Gentry has ten Major League seasons under his belt including the last two seasons with the Orioles where he slashed a .265/.326/.688 line before he was released in September of last year.

And an important fun nugget you need to know is the 35-year-old's nickname is "Kitten Face," compliments of Michael Gruber and his former roommate, Sean Bass.

The two were watching a Rangers game in 2011 when Gentry Kitten Face was with Texas and Gruber made a comment on how the well-manicured beard the outfielder was sporting reminded him of a kitten. 

Boom -- a legend was born.

And if you're wondering how Gentry feels about the nickname. Well, he talked about it on the back of one of his Topps cards:

(Thank you, Gruber, for showing this to us).

It's true. If they make a shirt out of it, you have to ride that out. 

At least we know he can pull off the orange and black colors.