Giants release Cameron Maybin after disappointing spring training

Giants release Cameron Maybin after disappointing spring training

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants hoped Cameron Maybin could fill some holes on their bench. It wasn’t happening, and on Friday, Maybin was released.

The veteran signed a minor league deal after camp had already started but hit just .163 in Cactus League play with no homers. Maybin also got a DUI midway through camp, and while team officials said that wouldn’t knock him out of the competition, it surely didn’t help his cause. 

A couple of weeks ago, Maybin was set to be the fourth outfielder. But the front office has been disappointed by the competition and continues to look for alternatives. Connor Joe, a Rule 5 pick acquired Thursday, would be on the roster if the season started today, per a source, and he can play a corner outfield spots. Yangervis Solarte also has been playing some left field.

President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi continues to talk to other teams about outfielders who might become available before Opening Day. The Giants recently added Matt Joyce, too, but they are short on right-handed options and outfielders who can back up Steven Duggar in center. 

In that respect, it is notable that Henry Ramos is still in camp. At the moment, Gerardo Parra would be the next best choice in center if Duggar needed a day off.

Farhan Zaidi expects Giants to be aggressive in promoting top prospects

Farhan Zaidi expects Giants to be aggressive in promoting top prospects

When Baseball America released its latest list of top 100 prospects, the Giants saw three of their young players mentioned within the first 63 names. 

Leading the Giants at No. 19 overall, though, is shortstop Marco Luciano. The young infielder full of power is only 18 years old, but he likely won't make his MLB debut until at least 2020 when he would be 20. 

Behind Luciano is 23-year-old catcher Joey Bart and 20-year-old outfielder Heliot Ramos. Both players are expected to begin the 2020 season in Triple-A Sacramento. It's also reasonable to expect Bart and Ramos to make their way to San Francisco this year. 

"I don't think it's out of the question, and that's one thing that we tried to do this past year," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi recently said on KNBR. "We had a lot of guys make their debut. We moved guys aggressively through the system.

"I think that not only creates excitement through the fans and people at the major league level, but for the players themselves."

Zaidi also included 6-foot-11 pitcher Sean Hjelle in the conversation with Bart and Ramos. The Giants promoted all three prospects from San Jose to Double-A Richmond last season.

Bart and Hjelle both are non-roster invitees for Giants' big league camp in spring training. 

Zaidi wasn't just referring to top prospects, though. Reliever Tyler Rogers finally was given a chance in the bigs at 28 years old last season and posted a 1.02 ERA in 17 games for the Giants. 

[RELATED: Marco Luciano gives Giants a bright future at shortstop]

"Promoting guys aggressively and rewarding performance, rewarding guys addressing areas of weakness that have been pointed out to them as things that they need to address, that's a real positive," Zaidi said. "I expect us to continue on that path in 2020." 

The Giants are going through a rebuild with hopes of competing as contenders again in the near future. Zaidi is ready for a youth movement in San Francisco, and you should be, too.

Farhan Zaidi reveals how Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly fit with Giants

Farhan Zaidi reveals how Kevin Gausman, Drew Smyly fit with Giants

The Giants still have former All-Stars Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija in their rotation. There's no hiding from the fact that Madison Bumgarner is gone, though.

When it comes to San Francisco's offseason strategy, however, it was Drew Pomeranz who might have come to mind more than MadBum. 

With young, unproven options behind the two veterans, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has been looking for arms who can help his team at the start of games or out of the bullpen. He found two such pitchers in Kevin Gausman and Drew Smyly. 

"What we're looking for is guys that bring flexibility to the pitching staff. So these are both guys who have been good starters at times in their careers," Zaidi told KNBR's Larry Krueger on Monday. "They've also both pitched in relief and I think both guys have the potential to be impact relievers if they wind up in that role." 

The Giants signed Gausman at the Winter Meetings on a one-year, $9 million contract. Manager Gabe Kapler made it clear Gausman would start off in the rotation, but it was the bullpen where the former top draft pick thrived last season. 

Gausman, who recently turned 29 years old, spent time with the Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds last season. He made 16 starts for the Braves and only one as a Red. The veteran right-hander went 3-8 with a 6.37 ERA and 1.49 WHIP over 17 starts. In 14 games as a reliever, he was 0-1 with a 3.10 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. 

Smyly, who missed the 2017 and 2018 seasons with arm injuries, pitched in 25 games last season -- 21 starts, four relief appearances -- between the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies. He was much better as a starter (5.69 ERA vs. 9.56) and hasn't consistently pitched out of the 'pen since 2013. 

The Giants signed Smyly a one-year, $4 million contract, and he posted a 3.65 ERA in five September starts for Kapler's Phillies last year. The lefty also averaged 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings in Philly. 

"We see both guys starting in the rotation, but just the fact that they can transition from one role to another and impact the team in different ways ... we've obviously got some young starting pitchers -- guys like Tyler Beede and Logan Webb, who may not start the year at the big league level but certainly we see making starts for us," Zaidi told Krueger. 

"Guys that have that kind of flexibility were really appealing to us as we look at different pitching options on the market," he added 

[RELATED: Three Giants prospects make Baseball America's top 100]

While the Giants have a plethora of options in their rotation, they still don't have a closer after Will Smith joined the Atlanta Braves this offseason. Could Gausman be an option? 

Zaidi believes if Gausman ever was thrown into that spot, he could be an "elite" ninth-inning arm. But don't expect that to happen right away.

"I think he could be at some point this year," Zaidi said. "He wants the opportunity to start and have room in the rotation, at least to start the year. And with some of those younger guys, I think we do want to manage their workloads a little bit."

Giants pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Feb. 12. We're exactly three weeks away, where questions will start to turn to answers.