Giants

Giants spring training Day 37: With LF options dropping, Marrero stays hot

Giants spring training Day 37: With LF options dropping, Marrero stays hot

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There is no doubt at this point that Jarrett Parker will face Zack Greinke and the Arizona Diamondbacks on opening day. What the Giants do for the leftover left field at-bats early in the season remains a mystery. 

Michael Morse is out at least two weeks. Mac Williamson is also out at least two more weeks with a quad strain.

"Mac's a ways away," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He did a pretty good job on that quad."

A month ago, Justin Ruggiano would have been the heavy favorite to pick up the slack. But the veteran lefty-masher is batting just .194 this spring, and even a recent uptick has included some plays that bothered the coaches. Ruggiano was twice thrown out on the bases Monday and on Tuesday he double-clutched before making a late throw after a Padre was caught flat-footed between first and second. The door to a roster spot is wide open, and another right-handed hitter is trying to charge through it. 

Chris Marrero had two more hits Tuesday, raising his spring average above .300. He hit his sixth homer, and it's no fluke. Marrero slugged 23 homers in Triple-A last season for the Red Sox affiliate. 

"This guy has had an impressive spring," Bochy said. "He plays first base, outfield, he's a right-handed bat. Mike (Morse), with his injury, it obviously shortens the competition up a little bit. Chris is just doing all he can. It's been a great spring for him."

Marrero said he comes to the park every day with the idea of leaving the staff thinking, "Look what Marrero did today." So far, so good. 

"I'm just trying to go out there and be aggressive," he said. "I know (the opposing pitcher) is trying to get ahead, especially late in games. I think being aggressive in the zone is keeping me on pitches. I think (the staff) knows I can hit. But being in the National League, you've got to play defense. I'm out there early working in the outfield and showing them that I can do that."

It's hard to tell what the Giants will do at this point. Morse was pretty close to a lock, but it's wide open now. There are surprises every spring, and with a week left in Scottsdale, it looks like Marrero might just be that guy in 2017.

ICYMI: A very busy, busy morning down here. The big early news: Barry Bonds has returned to the organization. He'll be in camp Wednesday.

"He's been here before, this is not something that's new to us," Bochy said. "He'll help out just like the other guest instructors, (currently Will Clark and Rich Aurilia) and those guys. We could put together a pretty good team with all the instructors. More than anything, he'll work with Bam Bam and the hiters. We welcome him here."

There are no firm plans yet, but it's expected that this will open the door for a Wall of Fame ceremony, number-retiring, statue and all that in the coming years. 

TRAINER'S ROOM: The Giants will know more about Will Smith on Wednesday, but the early diagnosis is not good.

FAMILIAR FACE: Ryan Vogelsong was granted his release by the Minnesota Twins. Per their beat writers, Vogelsong asked for the move. This gives him a few extra days to try and find a rotation slot elsewhere. 

FLASHING THE LEATHER: Jimmy Rollins made the play of the day, running deep into left field for a basket catch of a flare that came one batter after a similar ball dropped in right-center. Rollins has proven over the past month that he can still play shortstop. He’s also hitting just .094.

GAME RECAP: Nick Hundley hit his first two homers of the spring, driving in four runs. He's batting .323 ... Cory Gearrin (cracked nail) returned to the mound and pitched an inning ... Madison Bumgarner pitched two innings and then went down to the bullpen to get up to 85 pitches for the day. That was the plan created by Dave Righetti so Bumgarner wouldn't have to face an NL West lineup three or four times. He'll see the Padres the first weekend of the season. When he was down in the bullpen, Bumgarner pretended he was facing all the hitters who were in the San Diego lineup on Tuesday. "I struck everybody out," he joked.  

QUOTABLE: There was a national story the other day noting that Denard Span hasn't looked good. The Giants disagree (Alex Pavlovic does, too) and Span has certainly looked pretty athletic over the past couple of weeks. He's running much better than he was a year ago, when he was coming off surgery. It seems Span saw that story. He lined a double off the left-field wall in the sixth and then tagged up and took third on a medium fly ball to right. 

"It was my last at-bat, I was coming out of the game. I didn't have anything better to do," he said, smiling. "It's spring training. Why not?"

A lot has gone wrong on the injury front the last few days, but most of the damage has been done to the edges of the roster. The leadoff hitter looks to be much-improved, and that's one positive to take away from this stretch of ball. 

Marlins acquiring Julian Fernandez frees up Giants roster spot

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Marlins acquiring Julian Fernandez frees up Giants roster spot

SAN FRANCISCO -- Julian Fernandez didn't want to succumb to Tommy John surgery this spring, but a couple of veteran teammates pulled him aside and helped him come to grips with the fact that it was the only way forward with his career. If that career is to include time in the big leagues, it won't be with the Giants. 

Fernandez was claimed off waivers by the Miami Marlins, clearing a 40-man roster spot for the Giants, who need to add players Tuesday to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. That draft is where the Giants found Fernandez, who regularly throws triple-digits but remains extremely raw and has not pitched above A-ball. The Giants took Fernandez out of the Rockies' system at the Winter Meetings last December and he nearly made their Opening Day roster out of necessity; they would have had to put him on the roster to keep him. 

Instead, after a shaky spring, Fernandez needed elbow reconstructive surgery. He missed the entire season, but the Giants thought enough of his arm to keep him on the 60-day DL. It was a bonanza for Fernandez, who earned a big league salary and got a year's worth of service time as he rehabbed. 
 

If the Mariners are selling, both the A's and Giants should be calling

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If the Mariners are selling, both the A's and Giants should be calling

The MLB hot stove is alive and well, now that we’ve had some significant action. The Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees made waves on Monday for a deal that will put ace James Paxton in pinstripes for the 2019 season.

[RELATED: A's and Giants poised to feel ripple effects of James Paxton trade]

As it turns out, that stove may just be warming up, particularly as it relates to Seattle. There are reports abound that the Mariners are entering a full-on rebuild, with their focus now on competing during the 2021 season.

Prior to sending Paxton to New York, Seattle traded catcher Mike Zunino to the Tampa Bay Rays. That’s two big pieces of their 2018 roster now elsewhere, and if the Mariners follow through with this rebuilding plan, there may be more moves coming soon.

Rumors coming out of the GM Meetings insisted that even in the event of a rebuild, Seattle would prefer to hang onto their young, valuable contributors like closer Edwin Diaz, outfielder Mitch Haniger and starting pitcher Marco Gonzales. That message was reiterated by Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto following the trade of Paxton on Monday:

However, if the Mariners are dead set on a full-blown sell-off, some uncomfortable moves may need to be made. So, would any of Diaz, Haniger or Gonzales make sense for the Giants or A's? Let's go one at a time.

EDWIN DIAZ

With 57 saves in 2018, Diaz saved at least 14 more games than any other pitcher in baseball last season, posting a 1.96 ERA with 124 strikeouts in 73.1 innings.

How he fits with the A's: Blake Treinein ranked third in the AL in 2018 with 38 saves, sporting a 0.78 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 80.1 innings. His job is safe. Diaz to the A's isn't happening.

[RELATED: Treinen misses out on AL Reliever of the Year to Diaz]

How he fits with the Giants: San Francisco blew 30 saves last season, more than any other MLB team. Mark Melancon is still owed $38 million over the next two seasons. Diaz comes significantly cheaper and is one of the best bang-for-your-buck closers in the game, but it's unlikely the Giants would be able to offer the kind of prospects in return needed to get a deal done.

MITCH HANIGER

Haniger broke out in a big way for the Mariners last season, batting .285 and accounting for 26 home runs and 93 RBIs. The 27-year-old right fielder is a Bay Area native, having graduated from San Jose's Archbishop Mitty High School. Could a return home be in store?

How he fits with the A's: They're not taking Khris Davis' bat out of the lineup. Stephen Piscotty is under contract for the next five seasons. Ramon Laureano burst on the scene in August. Still, Haniger made only $560,200 last season, and his .366 OBP ranked 10th in the AL. Factoring in his age, position and skillset, he'd fit right in with Oakland, and they might have the combination of prospects and cheap veterans that Seattle would find acceptable in return. That said, here's assuming the Mariners would rather not trade Haniger within the division.

How he fits with the Giants: Come on down!

Seriously. The Giants desperately need an infusion of youth and power into their outfield, and with Hunter Pence now departed, right field is wide open for the taking. He hits for power, average and to all fields. So, yes, Haniger would make a ton of sense for the Giants. The question, again, is whether or not they possess the assets to make a deal.

MARCO GONZALES

Gonzales went 13-9 with a 4.00 ERA in 166.2 innings for the Mariners last season. He was 12-5 with a 3.37 ERA through the end of July, but the 26-year-old lefty withered down the stretch, losing four of his final five decisions.

How he fits with the A’s: Oakland had only three players pitch at least 100 innings for them last year. Sean Manaea led the way with 160.2, and he’s expected to miss all of the 2019 season after undergoing surgery on his throwing shoulder in September. Jharel Cotton, A.J. Puk, Daniel Gossett and Kendall Graveman are all coming off Tommy John surgery. Jesus Luzardo had a tremendous season in the minors, but may need more seasoning. Mark Fiers, Frankie Montas, Andrew Triggs, Paul Blackburn and Aaron Brooks remain under contract, but that’s the extent of the A’s starting pitching options currently on the roster.

That’s a lot of quantity, but how much quality remains to be seen. Gonzales is due to make $900,000 in 2019 and $1 million in 2020, with three more years of team control beyond that. Financially, it would certainly be feasible, but it’s possible the additional cost (in terms of assets going the other way) may be prohibitive to the A’s. It’s also worth mentioning Gonzales underwent Tommy John surgery in 2016.

How he fits with the Giants: Johnny Cueto (33) is due to make $21 million each of the next three seasons. Jeff Samardzija (34) will make $19.8 million in each of the next two. Madison Bumgarner is entering the final year of his contract, and if the Giants do end up re-signing him, it certainly won’t be for cheap.

Suffice to say, San Francisco could really use an affordable, dependable lefty in their starting rotation. Dereck Rodriguez came out of nowhere to be the bright spot of an otherwise forgettable season in 2018 and figures to be a staple in the rotation moving forward, but he needs help. Gonzales would check a lot of boxes for San Francisco, but again, they might not have what the Mariners would be looking for in exchange.

Of course, the A’s and Giants wouldn’t be limited to those three players in a potential trade with the Mariners. Seattle won 89 games in 2018, so it’s not as if their cupboards are bare. Perhaps a player like shortstop Jean Segura, who batted .304 with 10 home runs and 20 steals last season, could be a fit for either team, although a position change would almost certainly have to be involved on someone’s part. 

The fact of the matter is, the A’s and Giants are facing significantly different realities right now. Oakland is building off a surprisingly successful 2018 campaign, fully capable of fielding a competitive team in 2019 and beyond. San Francisco, on the other hand, has considerably more question marks moving forward.

Despite those differences, however, both teams should be looking to improve whenever and wherever possible. If Seattle is truly intent on expediting a rebuild, both Bay Area teams have the potential to take advantage.