Giants

Giants roster breakdown: Nowhere near Farhan Zaidi's goal for depth

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USATSI

Giants roster breakdown: Nowhere near Farhan Zaidi's goal for depth

SAN FRANCISCO -- When we looked over the roster a month ago, the Giants had six open spots on their 40-man roster. They now have just one -- although they can easily clear space for future additions -- but they still have not made any significant moves. 

To this point, the Giants have added just one player on a big league deal, switch-pitcher Pat Venditte. Their offseason spending through two months amounts to $585,000, Venditte’s salary if he’s in the big leagues, a drop in the bucket compared to past winters. 

The Giants will at some point add more notable names. Their goal all along has been to play it slow and make their biggest waves in late January or even February, when veterans should be available on short-term deals. That has made for a boring offseason thus far, but we’ve still learned a bit about the direction of this roster, so here’s an updated look at where things stand … 

Catcher: The Giants still have just two catchers on their 40-man roster: Buster Posey and Aramis Garcia. They signed veteran Cameron Rupp to a minor league deal in early December but that was more to fill in at Triple-A, where they have little catching depth. The good news is that Posey remains on track to be ready for Opening Day, and Farhan Zaidi expects him to have his usual season behind the plate workload-wise.

As for the backup spot, Zaidi has talked at length about finding a versatile backup catcher, someone in the Austin Barnes mold, so a reunion with Nick Hundley seems unlikely at the moment. Hundley is still a free agent, though. 

Corner Infield: There have been no additions here. More notable, no subtractions, either. Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria represent two salaries the new front office will try to move at some point, but at the moment they remain set to hit in the middle of the order. 

Middle Infield: The Giants dealt for Breyvic Valera over the weekend, and if he remains on the roster for another five weeks, he should enter the spring battling Alen Hanson, Abiatal Avelino and others for a backup job. Expect more movement here. Zaidi would like to find a right-handed complement for Joe Panik, and there are still some big-name second basemen available. 

Outfield: This group has seen the most interesting additions, as Mike Gerber and Drew Ferguson have been added to compete with Chris Shaw, Austin Slater and Mac Williamson. Zaidi said a month ago that he expected to add a couple more outfielders. The Giants have serious holes here and still could add a starting left fielder and right fielder over the next month. 

Rotation: The most fascinating thing Zaidi said in Las Vegas was that he wanted to add enough pitching depth that Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez could start the season in the minors. The Giants aren’t even close to that. Madison Bumgarner remains, and Jeff Samardzija is said to be doing well, but the organization has not added a starter through two winter months.

Derek Holland is still on the market and would be a strong move. There are others who could fit the one-year-deal desire, and Zaidi is hoping to sell some veterans on the fact that AT&T Park is a great place to try to build up your value for a year. There’s still plenty of time for the Giants to add here, but it’s hard to see how they’ll accrue enough depth to allow Rodriguez and Suarez to be slow-played. 

[RELATED: Zaidi could make acquisitions, but later in offseason]

Bullpen: This group could end up having the biggest changes this offseason. Venditte and left-handed Rule 5 pick Travis Bergen have a decent shot at making the Opening Day roster, and the Giants could clear spots by trading Will Smith, Tony Watson or both. They’ve gotten plenty of calls on Smith, in particular, and anticipate that trade talks will pick up on their relievers as more and more free agents come off the board. 

Giants lose on Cole Tucker's first career homer, PNC Park lightning policy

Giants lose on Cole Tucker's first career homer, PNC Park lightning policy

PITTSBURGH -- The Giants have found all sorts of different ways to lose games over the past two-plus years, especially on the road. But this was a new one. 

Derek Holland gave up a two-run shot moments before the tarps came out for good. It didn't seriously rain for about 25 more minutes, but PNC Park has a rule that the tarps come out if lightning strikes within four miles of the field. 

The Giants didn't immediately get a chance to counter at the plate, and when the rain started pouring, they could do nothing but wait before the game was called after three hours and eight minutes. They lost 3-1 in five innings

"If it wasn't for bad luck right now," manager Bruce Bochy said, "We wouldn't have any. That's how things are going."

Holland had thrown well early and was in his last inning, with the game tied at one. With a runner on and two outs, rookie Cole Tucker got a fastball that wasn't as far in as Holland wanted and blasted it into the shrubbery in center field. The homer was the first hit of Tucker's career and came in his first start. As Tucker took a dramatic curtain call, Holland struck out the next batter. He thought the game would continue, but the Giants never got another crack at Jameson Taillon. 

"That sucked," Holland said of the final sequence. "It's very upsetting. I felt like I pitched a pretty good game (and) that's the way it's going to finish.

The Giants lost for the fourth time in five games on this trip, dropping six games under .500. It's not like they should have been overmatched, either. The Pirates called up two rookies after a collision in the outfield Friday night and started both former Giants prospect Bryan Reynolds and Tucker, a shortstop who certainly enjoyed his debut.

Holland didn't take exception to that, saying he was focused on getting the final out of the fifth. 

[RELATED: Giants open to moving relievers]

"I don't have anything against the curtain call," he said. "The kid hit a homer in his first game, so congrats. The kid is living in the moment. It's his Major League debut and he hit a homer."

MLB rumors: Giants willing to talk about trading veteran relievers now

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AP

MLB rumors: Giants willing to talk about trading veteran relievers now

PITTSBURGH -- After a busy start to the season, Farhan Zaidi has gone nearly two weeks without making a move. The Giants are not currently considering adding any of their Triple-A bats to a struggling lineup, but there still is stuff percolating behind the scenes. 

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported Saturday that the Giants are willing to talk about some of their veteran relievers right now, which would be a continuation of a spring where the Giants tried to deal some of their bullpen depth but ultimately held everyone through Opening Day. 

Before that first game, Zaidi explained why a reliever-for-hitter trade never materialized. 

"When we talked about this over the course of the offseason it was a really deep reliever market in free agency this offseason, and we like our relievers, so they weren't just kind of fodder for us to trade them and acquire other pieces," Zaidi said. "A deal like that certainly made sense on paper, but we didn't line up on anything that we thought made sense for us."

It would continue to make sense for the Giants to seek those kinds of deals. They were right about their bullpen depth and talent, and through 21 games the group has a 2.33 ERA, more than a run lower than any other bullpen in the National League. The .605 OPS allowed is 57 points lower than the next best bullpen. 

It would be hard to get much for some of the newcomers, but if Zaidi could find the right deal for a Sam Dyson, for example, Trevor Gott and Nick Vincent could fill some of those innings, along with a resurgent Mark Melancon, who hasn't allowed a run. The Giants could then bring up a Ray Black or Tyler Beede to fill out the bullpen.

[RELATED: Reynolds' call-up a reminder Giants took too long to change]

The left side is where the Giants really have intriguing pieces to offer, and they got calls on both Will Smith and Tony Watson in the offseason. Either one could help any contender, and there is some left-handed depth with Travis Bergen at the big league level and Andrew Suarez, Pat Venditte and Ty Blach in Triple-A. 

There are plenty of teams out there -- hello, Nationals and Braves! -- who could use the bullpen help right now, and Zaidi has shown he's not afraid to pull the trigger on an early deal, trading for two outfielders in the season's first two weeks. If someone out there is willing to give up a nice package for a Giants reliever, you can bet Zaidi will take that call seriously.