SAN FRANCISCO -- The belief throughout much of the offseason was that Farhan Zaidi would trade his best relievers in order to get pieces that could help the Giants win in future years. Recently, Zaidi put his own twist on that plan when asked if he could still swing deals centered around bullpen arms.
"It definitely is a position of depth for us," he said. "We'll kind of continue to listen because I think it's a relative position of depth, but I think for us to be successful with the composition of this club, we'll have to have one of the best bullpens in baseball."
The Giants are not on anybody's list of contenders, and they haven't significantly upgraded a club that's lost 187 games the past two seasons. But that also doesn't mean they're raising the white flag in March, especially not Bruce Bochy's last one with the club, and Zaidi believes the bullpen can help keep this team in the race.
There have been plenty of proclamations this spring that raised eyebrows, but it really is reasonable for the Giants to be right near the top of the National League when it comes to this one position group.
A year ago, Giants relievers ranked sixth in the NL with a 3.79 ERA, and all of the main contributors are back. They'll get Will Smith from the start of the year this time, Reyes Moronta and Ray Black both could grab bigger roles, and Mark Melancon feels fully healthy for the first time since signing a massive four-year deal.
The biggest gains could come in another area, though.
Between a resurgent Tyler Beede, prospects like Shaun Anderson and Melvin Adon, Rule 5 pick Travis Bergen, and starters like Andrew Suarez, Chris Stratton and Ty Blach -- who likely all be left on the outside of the rotation race -- the Giants simply have better young options than they've had in recent years.
The Giants also are deeper when it comes to veterans, with guys like Pat Venditte, Trevor Gott and Nick Vincent ready to take some of the innings that went to Pierce Johnson (5.56 ERA in 43 2/3 innings) and Josh Osich (8.25 ERA in 12 innings last April).
The Giants had a solid bullpen last year. This year it's much deeper, and should be better. Zaidi is happy with the group he'll start the season with, but he'll be ready to pick up calls when other teams need to fill a hole.
"I think we have that group in-house (to be one of the best bullpens), and we don't necessarily want to compromise that," he said. "But it's certainly a group that we have enough depth that we could trade from it and still be in that position."