If all goes according to plan, Friday afternoon's seemingly minor set of roster moves could be a landmark moment for the Giants.
They added four intriguing players to their 40-man roster to protect them from the MLB Rule 5 Draft, most notably outfielder Alexander Canario, who has superstar potential. But as the moves were made, most fans probably were more taken aback by the names who were let go.
To clear roster spots, the Giants designated Aramis Garcia, Chris Shaw and Jordan Humphreys for assignment. Shaw is a former first-round pick and Garcia was a second-rounder, but neither young player caught on with the previous regime, and they were passed by in 2020 for different reasons.
Shaw clearly wasn't in this front office's plans, and he was a surprise omission from the summer camp roster in July. The Giants did ultimately add Shaw to their alternate site in late August, but that seemed to be more as a potential trade chip than as a September call-up option. Shaw was demoted to Double-A after the spring of 2019 but handled it well and worked his way back up to Triple-A for a third consecutive season.
Shaw has hit at least 20 homers in all four of his full minor league seasons, but he has swing-and-miss issues and struck out 31 times in 72 scattered big league at-bats. Shaw had been working hard on adjustments, but at 27, he needs a fresh start.
Garcia also could look for a new opportunity, although rehabbing players often return to an organization that DFA'd them. The situation might be different for the 27-year-old, who now finds himself looking up at Buster Posey and Joey Bart, with Patrick Bailey on the way. The Giants had talked of bringing a veteran in as Posey's backup next year so Bart could get more time in Triple-A, but at least for now, Garcia doesn't appear to be that choice. Garcia played 37 games in 2018-19 but missed the entire 2020 season after having hip surgery.
Humphreys was acquired in the Billy Hamilton trade, but the right-hander was pushed off the roster as the Giants added three young pitchers with electric stuff.
Camilo Doval is the closest to the big leagues and should debut in 2021, showing off his triple-digits fastball. Gregory Santos, acquired in the Eduardo Nuñez deal, was also added. He's a high-upside starter who has been slowed by injuries but should be ready for High-A or Double-A next season. The third addition was Kervin Castro, a 21-year-old right-hander who is a popular sleeper prospect in the organization. Castro has just 28 minor league appearances, but teams generally hold on tight with intriguing pitching prospects this time of year, aware that rival organizations could try and stash them in a bullpen.
The biggest addition was Canario, a 20-year-old who should one day give the Giants another top-100 outfield prospect but will miss the start of the season after having shoulder surgery. Canario has big-time power, and he presented an interesting case this week. Given the fact that he got injured in the instructional league, the Giants could have taken the risk of keeping him off their 40-man. But they must have figured a bottom-five team might try and stash him on the back end of the bench to add a top prospect to the organization. Frankly, it's the type of move this Giants front office might have made if a player like Canario became available.
The moves brought the 40-man roster to 40 but the Giants themselves could end up needing another roster spot during the Rule 5 Draft, which will be held on the final day of the Winter Meetings next month.
They have selected three players in two seasons under Farhan Zaidi, although all ultimately were returned to their original organization.